About Us

Heritage, facilities, ecology and development...

Welcome to the High Nature Centre

The High Nature Centre is a 5 acre smallholding located on a coastal plateau 130m above sea level on the South Devon Coast. The site is level and surrounded by mature hedges, and is a short walk away from a dramatic picturesque stretch of the South West Coast Path and some of the most spectacular sandy beaches in England.

High Nature was founded in 2009 by Permaculture Designers Catherine Middleditch and Douglas Lane.  Originally a plant nursery known as Wayfield Nurseries, the small holding has a history of growing cauliflowers, cut flowers and was then managed by a local woman known as ‘Green Jane’ who grew beautiful organic fruit and vegetables for the local community.  Over the last 10-15 years, the land has slowly been diversified using permaculture ethics and principles into a mixed use of eco-tourism, organic food growing, well-being activities, nature connection, rewilding, and social outreach.  The Centre continues to be managed by Catherine along with Tobdan and their daughter Tanzen-Zangmo.

Heritage

The High Nature Centre is located in a very special area, both in terms of its beauty and it’s geological and cultural heritage. If you walk from the Centre towards the sea you will discover an ancient Celtic field system positioned on Deckler’s Cliff, dating from 300 BC. These have survived due to their proximity to the cliff edge and are thus protected from certain modern farming methods. There are also the remains of hut circles, further evidence of prehistoric inhabitants. The High Nature Centre aims to provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the local heritage and culture through the provision of interpretation materials, activities and courses.

Facilities

Current facilities on the site consist of 6 x 30m polytunnels which have been adapted to provide space for both people and plants.  Amongst the food growing you can find spaces to relax, a wood workshop, table tennis, arts and crafts, solar showers, a laundrette, a dining area, and a yoga shala.   

The site also has a borehole linked to a collector tank, mains water and electricity throughout the site, a reception and field kitchen cabin, a shared yurt camp kitchen, hot showers, composting toilets, a space staff and volunteers to cook and rest, and a static caravan which is used as a site office.

Accommodation

A small amount of temporary low impact off grid accommodation is available in the form of yurts. The yurts are hand built using natural materials and provide the visitors with a unique ‘High Nature Experience’ whilst they explore the project and the surrounding landscape.  More recently we have added 3 bell tents and 3 off-grid grass camping pitches.  We aim to keep our campsite spacious with plenty of room for wild-life to flourish.

Rewilding & Conservation

The Centre aims to conserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitats, as well as promote geological and archaeological features.  Biodiversity and productivity has been increased on the land using permaculture and rewilding practices, creating havens for both wildlife and visitors.  Intensive monocultural farming continues to dominate the surrounding landscape here and throughout the UK.  We consider ourselves a little hidden poly-cultural oasis here on the South Devon Coast.

Over the years, this essential regenerative work has involved the planting of more than 2000 hedgerow trees on the 5-acre plot, the introduction of wild flowers, grass meadows and increased soil health throughout the tunnels. 

Ecological Surveying

High Nature provides wild-life habitats for various wonderful mammals, insects, flora and fauna including: wild rabbits, badgers, foxes, mice, moles, shrews, stoats, brown rats, hares, common newts, common toads.

Butterflies and insects: meadow brown, brown hairstreak, ringlet, small copper, small blue, chalk hill blue, painted lady, black hairstreak, red admiral, peacock, wood white, and the great green bush cricket!

The following birds have also been spotted here at High Nature: black cap, buzzard, coal tit, blue tit, grey tit, goldfinch, chaffinch, rook, raven, crow, jackdaw, magpie, great egret, black bird, song thrush, robin, wren, swallow, house martin, swift, stone chat, dove, wood pigeon, kestrel, herring gull.

Wild flowers and grasses include: Yorkshire fog, common bent, cock’s foot, lolium perenne, crested dogs tail, soft brome, red campion, yarrow, bind weed, creeping thistle, lesser burdock, borage, wild mustard, white clover, ribwort plantain, greater plantain, broadleaf, common sorrel, common mouse ear, oxeye daisy, common daisy, black knapweed, foxglove, artemisia, bluebell, celandine, valerian.

Rural Diversification

The original planning application was granted in October 2012 to further develop the site to allow for additional recreational and business activities. The aim was to contribute to rural diversification by enabling additional revenue generating activities to be carried out on the site. This has been achieved by providing yurt camping facilities for visiting tourists, low cost workshop spaces for locals, and social outreach opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

Our aim was not only to enhance the visitor experience but provide a place for local people to develop their own rural enterprises. For example food processing/preserving, arts and crafts, textiles and wood working, as well as providing health and well being sessions such as walking and marine trails, yoga and meditation. The production of food using natural agricultural methods has continued and more recently enabled the field kitchen catering service to provide fresh local produce to the guests and general public.

The Roundhouse

An application for the High Nature Roundhouse was granted ‘permanent’ permission by South Hams District Council in June 2018.  This low impact ecological construction (once built) will be used as an ‘all weather’ central hub and activities centre.  High Nature is in much need of a temperature controlled space for storing seeds, produce, sensitive equipment and for holding events throughout the year, especially during extreme and severe weather conditions.  

The design of the building is still in development and is growing organically.  It has changed a lot since it was first conceptualised.  We are very happy to be working with Gordan Clarke from Apse Architects www.apse-architects.com/ We are aiming to offer a variety of short eco-building courses throughout the construction process.  At present we are waiting for our latest planning application to be determined to release the capital to begin this incredible building project. 

Location

The High Nature Centre, East Portlemouth, Salcombe, TQ8 8PN

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