Welcome to the National Trust on Wenlock Edge

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

Monday, 23 November 2015

Autumn Colours

At Wenlock we are surrounded by an array of Autumn colours, with various shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns. It is a beautiful time of year and such a lovely way to witness the seasons changing as we watch the faded leaves flutter down to the ground. With the strong winds we have been experiencing, the trees are starting to look quite bare now, their leaves have left their branches and the trees are preparing themselves for Winter. Now, under foot, we hear the satisfying crunch of the leaf litter below as we tread our way through the woods.

Autumn colours

Cleaning, Thinning and Winching

Last weekend we spent time clearing litter from the Presthope car park and the Presthope trail walk. The visitor experience always should begin in the car park, so the appearance of these sites is very important and regular maintenance is essential.

We also went around Much Wenlock car park and Wenlock and thoroughly cleaned the Amiga signs, notice boards and road signs, which were looking grubby and needed a thorough clean. Again, we did this to maintain the appearance of the site and also to make sure it is obvious to ‘passers-by’ in cars where the National Trust Much Wenlock car park is, as it wasn’t very clear.

Cleaning the road signs in Much Wenlock

‘Many hands make light work’
Recently on Wenlock Edge a lot of thinning and winching has been taking place, with lots more planned throughout the winter. There has been extensive thinning at Longville Coppice, Harley bank and Smokey Hole, where there is a mixture of beech, sycamore, ash and hazel.

Working alongside the contactors and with volunteer Pete Hampton, we have been manually pulling, and using the tractor mounted winch, large amounts of felled wood down the steep and slippery slopes. We dragged the lengths down to the pathway below, cut them into 3m sections and stacked them into piles ready for collection by the forwarder to be sold as firewood.

Thinning is necessary to create space for remaining trees and to let light in to the woodland floor; this is done by selecting the healthiest trees to stay and marking the poor quality trees to be felled. A tree is classed as poor quality if it is forked, damaged, twisted or leaning – the wood will be sold to people locally to use as fuel. Other benefits from thinning are an increase in ground flora, increase biodiversity of flora and fauna and create a sustainable income.

Glynn (one of the contractors) cutting the logs into 3m sections

Pete (one of the volunteers) putting the cut logs into piles

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Halloween at Wenlock Edge

Last Saturday, for the first time at Wenlock Edge, we held two Halloween events. An earlier one, commencing at 3pm from Presthope carpark, for the younger children and a later version, starting at 7pm at Much Wenlock carpark, for the braver of us wanting a spookier experience in the dark. The turnout for both events was fantastic and there was an array of lots of scary costumes ranging from Dracula to black cats.

At the beginning the children all made their own bats and told some of their own spooky stories before setting out on the ghostly walk through the spookily decorated woods, with numerous, allegedly true ghost stories, based in and around Wenlock Edge on the way. The children heard stories from two witches and a ghostly quarryman, and also heard about the famous Ippikins and Major’s Leap legends.

Making a bat

Spooktastic costumes!
For the later event, the All Hallows Eve walk, we began our route through Blakeway Hollow and made our way to Smokey Hole (an area of kilns and charcoal hearths) - apparently the ghostliest part of the Edge - where we came across numerous spooky characters who told their stories of the Edge, including a witch at her cauldron and campfire and the reappearance of the quarryman chipping away at the rock; oh, and not to forget a naughty goblin who kept jumping out to make our hearts race!

We finished this walk by trying out some bat detectors to see if we could track any bats in the area; we were unsure if we did trace the clicking noise of a bat, however the children (and adults) seemed to enjoy using these and were determined to track one down!

Overall, two very fun and spooky Halloween events which we are going to hold again next year due to their success.

Listening to the Major's leap legend
A frightening ghoul
Listening to the witches tales

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween at Wenlock Edge

Over the past month we have been getting ready for our two Halloween events at Wenlock Edge this Saturday. The first event called 'Halloween at Wenlock Edge' begins at 3pm finishes at 6pm, starting from Presthope car park and involves prizes for the scariest dressed, making spooky bats and walking around the woods listening to ghostly legends as we go. 

Our next event called 'All Hallows Eve Walk' starts at 7pm and runs until 9pm (the spookiest time to be wandering through the woods) meeting at the National Trust car park in Much Wenlock. We will be exploring Smokey hole where many myths and gory tales have been born and will be hearing about the legends of Wenlock Edge from witches and ghouls. 

We are really looking forward to it! Hope to see you there!

A hint of what's to come - preparing for the events (I don't want to give too much away!) 

Nibbled nut project

A dormouse nut project has been set up by the National Trust in partnership with Wenlock Edge Community Wildlife Group which aims to repeat a survey undertaken in 2001. The survey began this month and will run until the end of December, continuing again in autumn 2016

The aim of the survey is to see if dormouse feeding signs can be found in every area of suitable habitat on Wenlock Edge. Volunteers search in the leaf litter for Hazel nuts nibbled by dormice, which will tell us if dormice are present in all areas where there is fruiting Hazel and will allow us to discover any change from the previous survey. If the project finds areas with no evidence of dormice, this will highlight places for us to do more intensive searches and to focus future conservation. It is a huge project which will take place over a number of years and the more volunteers the merrier. Training will be provided: surveys are 10am - 2pm but you can leave early if necessary.

The dates for surveys this year are;
Wed 11th Nov
Wed 25th Nov
Wed 9th Dec
Wed 30th Dec 

If you are interested in helping or have any questions please email or call me on; Kate.Price@nationaltrust.org.uk or 07972 115725

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Last weekend: Green Edge event and SSNTV day

Last Saturday we were invited to the Green Edge event at Much Wenlock Primary School, where we had a brilliant time informing visitors about how important it is to look after our local wildlife, in particular birds, and especially at this time of year when the cold weather is moving in.

We had a display of information leaflets and various wildlife exhibits to look at and touch, for example fallow deer skulls, fungi, dormouse nibbled nuts, a dormouse nest and much more! But the most enjoyable part was making lots of messy pine cone bird feeders for people to take home!

We had an interactive table where we were making the bird seed feeders, being aware to be green by using materials that were natural and could be re-used. The feeders were made by attaching string to the top of the pine cones as a hanger and then creating a fatty seed ball by covering the pine cone in lard and rolling it around in bird seed. This table was very popular and seemed to go down well with the kids! It was also a great way for Wenlock Edge to connect and engage with the community and children and inform them of why Wenlock Edge is so special.

Sticky hands!
The girls showing off their finished bird seed feeders!

Observing the fallow deer skull

Last Sunday, we were working with the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers (SSNTV) who came over to Wenlock Edge to help out with a large amount of much needed coppicing. Coppicing is the ancient craft of cutting trees and shrubs to ground level and although this might at first appear destructive, it has important environmental benefits by extending the life of the tree and allowing light to reach the woodland floor. This encourages a rich diversity of flora and  fauna, and at Wenlock Edge this is particularly important in creating a beneficial environment  and food source for its dormouse population. The strong re-growth from the coppice stools also provides a renewable source of timber for many uses, including hedge-laying.

A big thank you goes to all the volunteers for their help on the day.

Everyone getting stuck in

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Our Adorable Hazel Dormice

It has been a great year for dormice on Wenlock Edge, partly due to the abundance of food such as blackberries and hazel nuts. Dormice are a protected species and are very vulnerable to change in climate and habitat loss in the UK. 

There are a number of nest boxes along Wenlock Edge that provide artificial nesting options for our dormice, especially when tall dense brambles and holes in old trees are in short supply. Stuart from the Shropshire Mammal Group, who is licensed to disturb and handle dormice, checks our boxes and at the last check he found 4 juvenile dormice and lots of nests which is brilliant news! Generally when boxes are checked at other sites, the dormice are all asleep, however they are always wide awake at Wenlock! Here is a picture of one who popped out of his nest to say hello!