Welcome to the National Trust on Wenlock Edge

A wooded limestone ridge of high bio-diversity, interspersed with species rich grassland

Thursday, 7 July 2016

National Meadows Day!

National Meadows Day was on 2nd July and to celebrate this we decided to provide a wild flower training day for our Wenlock Edge volunteers in our very own meadows!

Rob our wild flower expert for the day teaching us everything we need to know!

Rob Webster came along to lead the day for us and teach us everything we need to know about wild flowers.

We began on the verge outside the Much Wenlock car park where even in that small space there was an astonishing array of beautiful flowering pyramidal orchids and southern marsh orchids in amongst all the bright pink clovers.

Examining the wild flowers

We then moved into the meadow in the Much Wenlock car park to see what flowering plants we could try and identify and then finally finished up in Ballstone Quarry (both meadows with our lovely flock of Hebridean sheep in); and it was there we spotted a stunning viper's bugloss (which was a spectacle to see) and wild thyme!

Scattered across the meadows and reading our wild flower books

Viper's bugloss

We learnt to identify many of the flowering plants that thrive in the limestone grasslands on the Edge including; pyramidal orchids, common spotted orchids, eyebright, devil's bit scabious, agrimony, birds foot trefoil and many more.

Engrossed in identifying the wild flowers

After a lovely day exploring the meadows in the sun! 

The weather was glorious so we even had the pleasure of spotting about 14 ringlet butterflies, a small blue, 4 meadow browns, a common blue and a gorgeous large skipper.

The large skipper sunning itself on a devil's bit scabious

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Wild Woods Adventure Trail (Summer Version)

On Sunday it was our Wild Woods Adventure Trail event. Despite the not so great weather forecast, a number of families came out to search for clues and answer questions along the trail! Some of the activities along the way involved making a mobile with sticks, leaves and string, and stick men, as well as bird spotting in the bird hide with one of our volunteers!

Making mobiles!

Going through the answers!
On finishing the trail we had a touch display on our stand with various objects related to Wenlock, as well as activity sheets for children to take home and an array of posters/pictures to have a look at.

Looking at the touch display and trying to identify objects!

Showing off their beautiful mobiles

A great day was seemed to be enjoyed by those who got turned out, with participants receiving a prize at the end!

All getting involved in making the mobiles

Looking at the nibbled nuts!

Replacing the kissing gates at Wilderhope

Last Tuesday, at Wilderhope, with the Tuesday volunteer group, we were replacing a metal kissing gate with a wooden kissing gate to try to keep within the ‘spirit of place’ of the surrounding area. We have one more left to replace and hopefully you will agree that they are much more in keeping with the countryside than the metal gate posts!

Half-way there with our happy, smiling volunteers

Phil doing what he does best!

Filling in the hole

Dick hammering the nails in

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Grassland Monitoring

Over the past couple of weeks I have been out with volunteer Charlotte Huntley plotting routes in four grassland areas for grassland monitoring training days.
This involved creating a route for the volunteers to follow that was representative of the grassland, deciding where they should stop to record information, and taking photographs to help orientate the volunteers.

Doing a species count to measure diversity
 Many of the wild flowers that grow on the Edge will only flourish in low fertility conditions, so it is important to monitor whether our management of the grasslands is successful, and to indicate where action might need to be taken. These are rare habitats and need to be looked after, monitoring of these meadows will also increase the conservation score for our property.

Carrying out the monitoring within the quadrat square
The training days involved giving some background information on the grasslands as well as explaining the methodology and doing a practice run on an actual area of grassland. Criteria we were monitoring included whether there were any negative indicators (such as nettles and docks), quantifying diversity by doing a species count, measuring the average sward height, and calculating the proportion of any bare ground.

Having a go at identifying some of the plant species
he methodology has been devised so that interested volunteers can simply go out themselves and follow the instructions to survey the grassland.

Common Spotted Orchid


Dormouse Nest Box Survey

Last Friday a small group of us went out with Stuart Edmunds, who is the chairman of the Shropshire Mammal Group, to carry out a dormouse nest box survey; Stuart is the only person who can do this as a licence is required to disturb dormice. This time last year, out of the 40 boxes which we have across the Edge, Stuart found 5 dormice in the boxes and 2 nests were present in others - this was the most we had ever had at Wenlock Edge.

Stuart checking one of the boxes
Unfortunately, due to unsettled weather over the past months, and poor weather conditions on the day, we didn't see any dormice on this occasion. There was torrential rain for most of the day when we were carrying out the survey; dormice are not foolish and in this sort of weather they will tuck themselves into holes underground. We will survey the dormice again in October and hopefully we will get a more accurate idea of numbers.

Trying to get an opportunist photo of a dormouse!

Blocking the nest box hole before opening the lid

Even though we left a little disappointed not to have seen a dormouse it was still important to check all the boxes and carry out repairs to broken boxes. We also saw a few baby blue tits nesting in boxes, which put a smile on our faces despite the weather; we hope they all fledge successfully.
Cute baby blue tits nesting

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Installing the new Information Board at Presthope car park

Last Tuesday our Tuesday group of volunteers worked hard to finish installing the newly made information board in Presthope car park. The first job was to remove the old interpretation panel; once this was done the location of the new panel was decided upon and it was positioned in a more suitable location.

Finished result!

The new board has much more space for material - including information about Wenlock and the walks, as well as extra information now available such as posters on history, archaeology, wildlife and woodland management. The board can also be used to advertise events that are up and coming, and to let people know where to find more information, such as on our blog and Facebook page.

Our Tuesday volunteers hard at work
We hope that you enjoy finding out what Wenlock Edge has to offer!

Phil relentlessly trying to extract the old interpretaion panel from the ground

Got that leaflet dispenser post out in the end!!!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Wild Food Foraging Event

Last Sunday, we were wild food foraging around Wilderhope Manor. The day started by talking over the main rules of foraging; we then set out with our baskets and pots and began foraging a variety of fresh leaves and flowers, pointing out those which are edible and those that are inedible, what they can be used in, what time of year they are available and how to process them.

The food we collected throughout the course of the morning was to be processed later ready for the lunch time meal. Most of the foraged plants had been collected the day before and the food made in advance of the event to save time, except for the side salad which we made using plants picked that day.

There was an array of tasters to partake in, such as wild foraged salad (including violets, cleavers, pink purslane, beech leaves, ribwort plantain, primroses, garlic mustard and hawthorn leaves), wild garlic and nettle soup, dandelion fritters using the dandelion heads we had picked, wood sorrel cheesecake, bilberry and gooseberry jam on bread, damson vodka, sloe gin, sweet woodruff tea and sloe gin chocolates, all of which seemed to go down a treat!

Everyone also took a recipe sheet home with some of the dishes served on the day as well as some others to experiment with!

We are also pleased to say we have another wild food foraging event on the 5th June because of the success of this one.

A few pictures below of the happy foragers!