Phacelia Field Race Track ~ Perranporth

In early June you will often see vast purple fields across Cornwall. People often assume this is lavender but it is actually phacelia, a cover crop plant native to the USA and Central America.

Phacelia is an environmentally friendly plant because it is fast growing, and provides food for bees and other insects. It also absorbs nitrogen, so when the farmer ploughs the plant back into the field it acts as a natural fertilizer. For this reason you might only notice a field turning purple for a week or so before it suddenly disappears again. 

polglaze barton farm perranporth

Phacelia fields have become a relatively common sight around Perranporth and Perranzabuloe. Last week there were a full five or six fields of purple around Polglaze Barton Farm, all but one of which were ploughed asunder.

Whilst driving back into Perranporth, I noticed that the remaining field had a pattern mown into it ~ a little like Perranporth's answer to a crop circle, or the Nazca Lines.

A friend told me that he had also noticed the pattern, and suggested that it might make for some good aerial photographs - and so I went along just after sunrise to take some photos. As you can see, I think the track pattern made for a great abstract shot.

phacelia field race track

Speculation was rife as to the reason why this pattern had been cut into the field, with suggestions ranging from: someone being drunk in charge of a mower, to a running track, to a race track.

The answer became clear when I got a message from the owner at the farm, explaining that it was indeed a race track for their 16 year old son Daniel Whear who loves Go Kart racing.

The track had been made so that Daniel could use his farm buggy to get some racing practice in for his Go Kart events. Check out this great video from Daniel's Facebook page of him racing through the Phacelia. I should imagine that the smell as you raced around the track would be amazing!

The field was due to be ploughed over, which was a shame as it would have been great to get some pictures of the buggy in action. I then got a message to say that the field hadn't been ploughed that day, and Daniel was going out for another practise! I jumped in the car and shot over to the farm to get some pictures.

buggy racing perranporth

As you can see, it was a beautiful evening - ideal for getting some photographs with the farm and Perranporth Beach in the background.

buggy racing cornwall field

Getting down low for some close up cornering shots. Even though I was a long way a way from the buggy, being downwind I still got covered in dust.

Daniel has been using his temporary race track to practice for his next big race, which is round 3 of the Daniel Ricciardo Series UK. Best of luck in the competition Daniel. I doubt any of the other competitors have had such an amazing track to practice on.

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by Jamie Turnbull