A new access gate has been installed at Hillsborough Local Nature Reserve in Ilfracombe to help with the on-going management of this nationally important iron age promontory fort.

Historic England granted scheduled monument consent for the work and gave part funding for the gate, in partnership with North Devon Council and North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s (AONB) Coastal Heritage Project.

The access gate will allow machinery into the nature reserve bringing larger areas under positive management than is currently done by hand. This will improve the condition of the monument and help the council to achieve some of it’s environmental biodiversity objectives.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “This new gateway and access will make such a difference to our work at the nature reserve and hill fort site. Until now, we have been unable to manage the reserve as well as we would like because we have never been able to get a tractor and baler through the existing narrow gate at Hillsborough Park Road. Now we can access the site easily, we can take regular cuts over the summer, keeping scrub at bay, and baling the grass and bracken. This will allow native plants to thrive, bringing a valuable source of nectar for our pollinators.”

Charlotte Russell, Heritage at Risk Projects Officer for Historic England, said "We are pleased to support positive management  for the iron age hillfort at Hillsborough. It is good news that that as the bracken, scrub and gorse are controlled for the benefit of the monument,  this will also improve the quality of the meadow and  develop biodiversity in the local nature reserve. Historic England, NDC and the AONB have long worked together with local volunteers to improve and support the condition of this nationally important archaeological site which so many people enjoy. The coastal Heritage Monument Management Scheme hosted by the AONB has been  a great success in improving the access, understanding and condition of a number of important Scheduled Monuments within the North Devon Coast AONB, thanks to our partners,  the volunteers and to Joe Penfold the Heritage officer  who has coordinated all the great work"

Joe Penfold, Heritage Officer for North Devon Coast AONB said: "Hillsborough is a key natural and cultural heritage site in the North Devon Coast AONB and we’re delighted to have supported work to improve it. As well as bringing biodiversity benefits, the new access point will make it much easier to protect the remains of Hillsborough’s iron-age hillfort. Mechanical access means that the dense carpet of scrub that obscures and damages the earthworks can be managed effectively over the long-term. We’d like to thank all those involved: North Devon Council staff, the contractors and of course the local volunteers for their hard work."

The first cut is scheduled to take place in September.