Philip and Faith Hambly created Lethytep an amazing place on 52 acres around their own home near Liskeard in Cornwall.
What was originally a farm has been transformed over 20 years into a secluded haven for wildlife and wild flowers. They have shaped 52 acres of meadows, lakes and ancient woodland into habitats that they manage for wildlife.
Philip has been recording the flora and fauna of Lethytep for many years, and his records show 24 butterfly species, over 100 bird species and over 200 species of plant. One of the most spectacular sights are the thousands of Southern Marsh Orchids which flower from late May to early June.
Here is the video we produced of one of their open days in June 2018.
When is Lethytep Open
Lethytep is not open to the general public, but you can go for study and enjoyment. For the wildlife enthusiast, or someone who simply enjoys a peaceful stroll in unspoilt countryside, you are welcome to visit Lethytep either on our advertised Open Days or by prior booking on a group basis.
They do not charge for admission or hospitality, because they are neither a charity nor a commercial venture. Visitors are invited to donate to Charity. The optimum time to enjoy the flower meadows is from mid-May to mid-July.
There is reasonably level access along winding paths to many parts of Lethytep. The ‘circular walk’ is approximately 1 mile long. Wear sensible footwear that you’d use for a walk in the country. If you have special access requirements, you are advised to discuss these with them before your visit. There is an adapted golf cart to drive the disabled around the grass paths.
Depending on the weather and your own timetable, two to three hours at Lethytep will allow you to get the most out of your visit; but if you can only spend an hour, it will still be worthwhile.
Because of the fragility of some of the habitats, they do not allow dogs on site. There is a loo and space to park your car. For more information, click here to see their Events page.
Where does the Name Lethyep Come From
This is one of the first questions many visitors ask. The answer involves some local history and quite a bit of detective work.
In 1996 Philip and Faith moved from the outskirts of Lanreath village to Penadlake where they had farmed for several years and built a new farmhouse to be close to their land and stock.
They had been trying to decide on a name, when they remembered that Philip’s grandfather had, many years ago, given him an 1883 edition of Kelly’s directory for Cornwall.
Under the listing for Pelynt parish adjacent to Lanreath – also Philip’s home parish – was a holding named Lethytep, farmed by someone called Hambly, which happens to be Philip’s surname. Subsequent editions of Kelly’s contain no records of Lethytep, so the name disappeared. With the local connections of Philip’s surname, home parish and farming it seemed timely to resurrect the name.
They now know that the original Lethytep was located at Milcombe on the West Looe River, about half a mile upstream from Watergate. The name is likely to have derived from the owner’s surname, with Levitopp, Levetop and Lethetop appearing in the parish records of nearby St Veep in the 17th and 18th centuries
Belonging to a category of surnames that originated as a description of an individual, Levitop (originally Lovetop) probably referred to the possessor of a prominent lock of hair.
These family names occur elsewhere in Cornwall, but are likely to have been of English, rather than Cornish, descent. This implies a pronunciation of Lethytep according to English rules, in other words, placing the emphasis on the first syllable. This rather confounds our original instinct to stress the penultimate syllable, a practice that applies to some – but by no means all – Cornish place-names.
Make Time and Visit This Cornish Gem
Through the Hambly’s working life, they had seen at first hand how the prolific use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides has taken a terrible toll on wildlife.
That experience kindled with their interest in more sustainable ways of behaving as stewards of the countryside. So the development of wildflower meadows, wetlands, lakes and woodland as managed wildlife habitats has been their response.
Lethytep is no longer a working farm, because they do not produce food from the land. Fifteen years on, it is of course a work in progress, and always will be.
The reward has been the return of nature to an amazing Cornish valley and the delight it gives to the hundreds of people who visit Lethytep every year.