Saturday, 29 December 2012

2012 bird review

Well 2012 was a poor year for breeding birds across the country and Wenlock Edge was no different. All through Spring we had a couple of days of mild weather followed by cool wet weather, this left many young birds on the verge of fledging, cold and in a lot of cases dead, also many eggs didn't even hatch.  About 150 nest boxes are regularly checked throughout the breeeding season and the young birds are fitted with a unique leg ring so that if found in the future we can find out about their movements around the country and beyond.
The results from this year are as follows.
Nest boxes used            62
Eggs laid                       431
Eggs hatched                342
Birds fledged                293

The majority of the boxes were used by Great Tits and Blue Tits but there were some notable exceptions, the numbers below are all for fledged birds.
19 Pied Flycatcher (up from 5 last year)
6 Redstart
6 Nuthatch

There would also have been a brood of Marsh Tits but a Grey Squirrel predated the nest box just before they fledged.
We are hoping for better weather next year for many reasons.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Protect Wenlock Edge

The National Trust has taken the exceptional step of campaigning against a retrospective planning application for timber storage and wood chip production at Lea Quarry North because of the importance of the quarry to Wenlock Edge and the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Please help protect a special part of Shropshire countryside on Wenlock Edge. Sign our petition >

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

December bird sightings

The feeders at the bird hide are very busy at the moment with the recent cold weather bringing more birds in for an easy meal. Regular visitors at the moment are;
Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Robin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren, Sparrowhawk also visit for a quick meal from time to time.

Male Great Spotted Woopecker.

Other birds being seen elsewhere on the Edge are;
Buzzard, Jay, Treecreeper, Fieldfare, Redwing, Carrion Crow, Kestrel, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinch.

Eurasian Treecreeper

A Red Kite was also spotted today passing the Wenlock Edge Inn.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

railway cut backs

If you have been along the dismantled railway line in Easthope wood recently you may have noticed that it is looking a little different. We have been coppicing along the edges and felling trees to allow more light in, this will benefit both wildlife and recreational users. The bridleway is now much lighter and therefore more pleasant to travel along, this will also prove beneficial to butterflies next summer (if we get one). The job is also producing some firewood and hedgelaying stakes. There is a bit of tidying up to do including burning the brash, this may keep the volunteers busy for a few weeks!

A view has also been created, looking towards Caer Caradoc hill, this is how it looked as the sun set this afternoon.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Today we coppiced an area of woodland alongside one of our busier footpaths, the volunteers burned all of the brash that landed on the path so that it was kept clear. Whilst coppicing all of the Hazel we also felled a few of the larger Ash trees as they were casting a lot of shade, this will allow the Hazel to grow back vigorously. A lot of the coppiced materials will be used for hedgelaying whilst the bigger timber will be sold as firewood. By carrying out this work we are also helping a lovely plant called Herb Paris which grows well here as long as it doesn't get too shady.

Unfortunately the wind blew the smoke in all directions, all day!
We had a lovely view while we had lunch though.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Worried about our woods

It has been confirmed in the last few days that a new disease affecting Ash trees has been found in growing trees in East Anglia, previously it had only been seen in recently imported saplings from the Netherlands. The disease called Chalara fraxinea has killed hundreds of thousands of trees in mainland Europe, it is currently not known how this recent outbreak arrived here, it may have arrived on the wind or been carried by birds. Chalara fraxinea causes the leaves to wilt and fall off and can lead to the whole tree dying. It is going to be very difficult to track the diseases progress as the leaves will all have fallen off soon anyway as it is Autumn. Ash is the most common tree on Wenlock Edge, growing and regenerating naturally in large numbers as conditions here are ideal for the trees growth.
A ban on imports of nursery stock is expected to begin tomorrow but i can't help but think it may be too little too late, as i have said it has been around for years across Europe but still we allowed imports of young trees from these countries!
I guess that we will have to cross our fingers and hope for good news and lots of healthy leaf growth in the Spring.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Over the Edge Challenge

Congratulations to everyone who took part in our 17.5 mile challenge event along the length of Wenlock Edge today.
Thick fog hid the views early on this morning but this burned off after a couple of hours and provided some stunning effects as the views gradually emerged. Everyone made good progress along the route and didn't seem to mind the inevitable muddy sections. Tea and coffee in the sunshine at Wilderhope Manor provided a welcome rest just stop after the halfway point. A slight change was made to last years route near the end, this was done to give walkers and runners better views of the surrounding countryside, unfortunately a rather stubborn patch of fog scuppered this plan. Back in the sunshine at the finish participants enjoyed a well earned cup of soup or cake.
Thankyou to all the cheerfull marshalls along the route who endured a chilly start, without your help these events could not happen and special thanks to Sue who helped massively with the organisation.
Roman Bank

Near Wilderhope Manor

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Final update

The route for tomorrows Over the Edge challenge is improving all the time, a good day today marking the route and i didn't get too wet or muddy. There are some boggy sections but they are mostly avoidable, the rest is lovely. The forecast is for dry conditions continuing overnight with some fog in the morning, this should be burned off by lunchtime leaving a sunny afternoon with light winds.
Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.

Over the Edge update

It is a beautiful morning here on Wenlock Edge, it didn't rain yesterday either so in theory it should be drying the ground out a bit!
The current forecast for tomorrow is for fog in the morning, clearing by about 11am then remaining dry for the rest of the day.
I am going out route marking this afternoon on the first half of the route, i will update again later (7pm ish all being well) with some info on the ground conditions and also tomorrows forecast.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Over the Edge Challenge

It is just a few days now until our 'Over the Edge Challenge' takes place along the length of Wenlock Edge, a distance of 17.5ish miles that can be run or walked.
As with most of the country the weather conditions recently have been damp to say the least, it is therefore safe to say that grippy footwear is recommended. Whether it is grippy off road running shoes or a decent pair of walking boots they will make the experience much more enjoyable as some sections are quite muddy and slippy.
The current forecast is for reasonable weather from now until early afternoon on Sunday but this keeps changing, i will keep updating the blog over the next few days. Whatever the weather i am sure it will be a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Route marking starts tomorrow.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A better outlook

The photo below shows the Wrekin viewpoint on Wenlock Edge. From here it is possible to look out through the trees towards the Wrekin, an iconic stand alone hill to the North-East of the Edge.
As you can see it has become a little overgrown recently, so today was the day something was done about it. Its amazing the difference that can be made in a couple of hours with a chainsaw and a couple of tanks of fuel.
The view is now restored but unfortunately i couldn't do anything about the weather which was deteriorating, as was the light, which is why the photo is so bad! This view can now be enjoyed by people walking the path along the top of Lea Quarry.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Today it rained!

We worked with our regular Tuesday volunteers today at the same place that we worked on Sunday with out irregular volunteers (hope that makes sense). The fire was resurrected and we felled a clump of Larch trees that were growing in the same area , this was made much easier due to the fact that all the understory had been removed. The weather forecast said that it would rain this afternoon, why then were we all drenched by lunchtime? We carried on regardless, felling the trees close to the fire to reduce the amount of dragging required to get rid of the branches. This did at least mean that we weren't permanently cold as we went from cold and wet to scorched and wet at regular intervals. It was still raining as we finished at 5 o clock and it is still pouring down out there now! At one point i splashed along to the Land Rover to get the camera, got back to take a few pics to find that the batteries had died. Never mind, clothes should be dried out by the morning and it can't rain again..can it?

Volunteers improve the views

We just had a wonderful 3 days of work carried out by the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers (SSNTV). They stayed at Mose Cottage on the Dudmaston National Trust Estate,  and worked from Friday through to Sunday. This was a great opportunity to get loads of work done and we had a different work site on each day. On Friday we coppiced an area of Hazel to re-instate a lovely viewpoint, this can be seen if you follow the Jenny Wind walk around the Harley Bank area of the Edge.

On Saturday we moved to the old railway line to cut back the vegetation on either side where we are soon to carry out some large scale forestry work. This work opened up the bridleway, making it more pleasant for people and also more beneficial for wildlife such as Butterflies. Also, if the forestry work was done without first removing the understory it would all have been smashed to bits, now the big trees can be felled and the understory can re-grow next Spring.

On Sunday we moved to another stretch of the old railway line and created a new viewpoint as well as opening up either side of the Bridleway. On all 3 days we had fires to burn the brash, these were definately welcome on Friday and Sunday when the weather was poor to say the least! We managed to cut some hedgelaying stakes and binders from the coppicing we didand hopefully these will be used at Attingham park in the near future.

As usual when the group visit there was plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of banter and more importanly plenty of cake! Thanks for your help and hope to see you all soon.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Forestry show

Last Friday Wenlock Edge was left to look after itself as we headed to Warwickshire to the biennial APF Forestry Show at Ragley Hall. There is loads to see if you have an interest in forestry work or simply like looking at big, shiny and sometimes noisy machinery. There were chippers, harvesters, firewood processors, chainsaw carving, pole climbing competitions and a few old friends to catch up with on the way round the demonstration circuit. Whilst we were not looking to buy anything it is good to see what is going on within the industry, it is also nice to dream!
This will have to remain on the wish list!


Pole climbing competition, i'd still be behind the gazebo!

How it used to be done! 

Grassland management

During the recent good weather lots of our time has been spent cutting grass from a few of our areas of Limestone grassland. We do this to prevent the nutrient levels in the soil from increasing as this would encourage growth of nettles and other undesirable plants that would out compete the delicate wildflowers. One field, opposite the Wenlock Edge Inn was done using a mower attached to a tractor, the dried grass was then baled using a tractor and removed from the field using a tractor. This was fairly straight forward and not too time consuming. Most of the other areas of grassland are too small to use an industrial sized mower and they also contain ant hills which would be destroyed by such techniques. So we borrowed a Sickle bar mower from our friends at Attingham Park and spent a few days motoring around small, awkwardly shaped fields trying to avoid upsetting the ants.
Once the grass had dried out it was simply a case of raking it up and loading it onto a trailer, it is only then that you realise just how much you have cut, You also realise that it would be useful to be able to rake both left and right handed as one side of your body tends to feel it a little after a few days! All the grass has now gone, in some of the fields we will introduce a few sheep to eat back any late Summer/Autumn growth.
Near the entrance to Wilderhope Manor


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Slow worm

Whilst working in the National Trust car park on the edge of Much Wenlock on Tuesday with our volunteers, Rob spotted a Slow Worm (actually a Lizard without legs) that had been under a pile of cut grass. It soon became aparent that it was in the process of swallowing an Earthworm. Thanks to Rob for the photos, after agravating it whilst we took photos we put the grass back on top of it and left in peace. It was a fairly large meal and would certainly have kept it going for a while, it will soon look for a sheltered place to hopefully protect it during the Winter.


Monday, 3 September 2012


This year has been a wonderful one as far as Ragwort growth has been concerned. If you are not sure what it is i'll briefly describe it, a tall bienniel with dense flat topped yellow flowers growing in open areas, it particularly seems to like roadside verges where you may have noticed it. It seems this year to have had 3 flowering seasons this summer due to the weather conditions. We are required to clear our land of all Ragwort as it spreads its seeds so readily and can be harmful to livestock if it is eaten. It always seems a shame as it the foodplant of the Cinnabar moth's catterpillar, it is also an attractive plant and is used by many other insects.

We have greatly reduced the amount growing in our areas of grassland by pulling it all up for a number of years, however a couple of areas that have recently been coppiced within the woods were very well populated (ok they were full of it). Some of these plants were huge, 7 feet tall and up to 12 stems in some cases, quickly filling the trailer up.

Anyway it has now all gone up in smoke, the best way to get rid of it is to burn it to ensure that any seeds are killed. A really hot fire needs to be burning and then the Ragwort gradually thrown on top, it smokes a lot but works well. I just hope no one had their washing out and that there isn't another flowering season this year!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Wenlock Edge Quarries

Please support us to protect Wenlock Edge Quarries

Over the past few years we have been working with the local community to create a vision for Wenlock Edge Quarries which would protect this special part of the countryside and open it up for public use. The Quarries project has inspired lots of excitement across the Trust including support from Fiona Reynolds.

Our hard work and plans are now jeopardised by a renewable energy company (Edge Renewables) which is seeking permission for a large scale enterprise at one of the quarry sites. Although the National Trust supports renewable energy, we feel strongly that this is the wrong place for the proposed operation as it will have a detrimental effect on the important ecology and geology of the quarry, and limit future benefits. Natural regeneration and restoration of the landscape is already happening, with rare and protected flora and fauna flourishing after years of quarrying.

We want to prevent further damage to this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and make sure that everyone can enjoy it.

Shropshire Council is currently considering the Edge Renewables application and has launched a period of public consultation until 23 August 2012 and we would like as many people as possible to join us in resisting the planning application.

The best way to make your voice heard is by submitting comments direct to Shropshire Council.

To view the plans and register your objection, visit: and search for application reference number: 12/03034/MAW

If you have any queries please feel free to contact Jo Dimitri: or 07795 316900

Thank you for your support!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Over the Edge Challenge

On 21st October we are repeating our Over the Edge challenge event. It is open to both walkers and runners and follows the length of Wenlock Edge from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock, a distance of approximately 17.5 miles.
There will be marshalls along the route offering cold drinks and at Wilderhope Manor (about halfway) there will be tea, coffee and flapjack. Busses will be available to transport participants from Much Wenlock to the start at Craven Arms. There will be soup and a roll for everyone at the finish.
Cost will be £15 per person. To enter either e-mail or call 01694725001

Monday, 30 July 2012

Summer on the Edge

The Limestone grasslands on Wenlock Edge are looking stunning at the moment, there are plenty of Orchids to be seen as well as plenty of other wildflowers. The footpath along the top of Lea Quarry is probably the best place to look, there are also hundreds of Grasshoppers and Butterflies including Ringlets and Wall Brown. It is also possible if you are lucky to see Slow Worms basking in early morning sun to warm themselves up, we spotted a Common Lizard there recently during a sunny spell. They favour dry, short grassland and the female gives birth to live young during the Summer.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Marathon and Half Marathon

Wow! what a day Sunday was.
After a lot of hard work and only minutes to spare we were finally ready for the runners to arrive at 9am for the start of the Marathon at Craven Arms.
Busses duly turned up and dispatched 130 runners in pristine running gear ready to register and get warmed up (this mostly seemed to involve sunbathing).
Jonathan Edwards also arrived with the worlds media close behind, doing a few interviews was fun but i was starting to wish i was in my running kit and able to take part in the race. Jonathan gave a few words of encouragement to the runners on the start line before sending them on their way.
Seeing the runners set off brought with it a mixture of emotions, whilst being proud i was also a little nervous about whether all the waymarkers were positioned ok and if the marshalls were in position. Fortunately i didn't have too long to worry about it as i needed to dash to Wilderhope Manor for the start of the Half Marathon.

Wilderhope Manor had caused me a few headaches due to the ridiculous amount of rain we have had, as parking was all on grass. It was a great relief when i arrived to find that all was under control and everyone was just about ready for the start. Jonathan kindly started the Half Marathon before departing for lunch, i did another interview for radio 4 before helping set up the checkpoint. With all the marshalls at this busy location in place i left, heading for the finish area at Much Wenlock. I had a quick stop off at the final 3 checkpoints on the way, to drop off water and tables and chat to marshalls.

The finish area had been brilliantly set up by the time i arrived and crowds were gathering on the Church Green in anticipation of the first runners arriving. There were lots more people there than i had imagined and we knew when a runner was approaching as a loud chear and applause could be heard from the streets around the Church. This continued all afternoon with all competitors recieving hearty and well deserved congratulations all the way to the finish line. Not sure quite what people had been doing but somehow they had managed to get their kit and themselves absolutely plastered in mud!

Jonathan Edwards kindly handed out medals to 1st, 2nd and 3rd in all the age categories that were completed at 3pm, he then spent a lot of time talking to people, signing autographs and having his photo taken.

I did one more interview with radio 4 before doing a spot of marshalling and chatting to people who were walking funny for some reason! After clapping the last finishers into the finish we quickly packed up and departed just before it started to rain.

Thanks to everyone who made it such an enjoyable day, participants, marshalls, supporters and everyone elso who was involved in some way.

Unfortunately i didn't get the chance to take any photos so if anyone has some that they wouldn't mind sharing please send them to

The radio 4 programme is on Thursday at 3pm

Monday, 9 July 2012

Full results

Full results are here

Category Results from Half and Full Marathon

Here are the results of the top 3 in each age category, the full set of results will be emailed out to all competitors soon.
Half Marathon: overall competition (men)
Name:                                        Age:        No.:               Time:       Position:

DanielsChris43301301:39:291st Fastest Man
BakerPaul35315701:48:572nd Fastest Man
BaconRichard38312701:49:053rd Fastest Man

Half Marathon: overall competition (women)

ClarkeMichelle40312601:51:571st Fastest Women

DaviesNicola30303002:03:122nd Fastest Women

CollinsonLibby56314102:11:383rd Fastest Women

Half Marathon Over 40s competition (men)
1st place Over 40s Men
PostinsGary42309001:58:572nd place Over 40s Men
BroadhurstPaul44308602:02:493rd place Over 40s men

Half Marathon Over 40s competition(women)

ClarkeMichelle40312601:51:571st Place Over 40s Women

DelaneyCath43309102:20:092nd Place Over 40s Women
BollomRachael45304002:23:573rd Place Over 40s Women
Half Marathon Over 
50s competition (men)

ReadAdrian55303102:00:081st Place Over 50s Men
PostinsKevin Paul52308902:06:512nd Place Over 50s Men
RickusMichael52305602:08:323rd Place Over 50s Men

Half Marathon Over 50s competition (women)

CollinsonLibby56314102:11:383rd Fastest Women
1st Place Over 50s Women

TattonJulie50306202:39:502nd Place Over 50s Women

OttoGill56300202:41:173rd Place Over 50s Women

Half Marathon Over 60s competition (men)

BardsleyMac64314202:02:421st Pace Over 60s Men

PressDavid A60303402:23:322nd Place Over 60s Men

TalbotMaurice60313002:27:343rd Place Over 60s Men

Half Marathon Over 60s competition (women)

MorganCarole 66301202:36:291st Place Over 60s Women

PocockBridget62304403:08:572nd Place Over 60s Women

WilliamsEileen Susan60304303:08:593rd Place Over 60s Women

Half Marathon Over 70s competition (men)

BevanColin70308202:59:331st Place Over 70s Men

Full Marathon Results:

Full marathon Overall Competition (men)

ThomasNick48104803:35:141st fastest man
1st place over 40 man

BollomMark41104203:49:482nd fastest man
2nd place over 40 man
GriffithsMark47110803:51:283rd fastest man
3rd place over 40 men

Full marathon Overall Competition (women)

Wright-SmithAmanda43111904:01:281st fastest woman
SadlerAngie52103704:18:282nd fastest woman
SivertsenVikki46112504:29:263rd fastest woman

Full Marathon Over 40s competition (men)

ThomasNick48104803:35:141st fastest man
1st place over 40 man

BollomMark41104203:49:482nd fastest man
2nd place over 40 man

GriffithsMark47110803:51:283rd fastest man
3rd place over 40 men

Full Marathon Over 40s competition (women)

Wright-SmithAmanda43111904:01:281st place Over 40 woman

SivertsenVikki46112504:29:262nd place over 40 woman

DaviesKaren48107905:03:163rd place over 40 woman

Full Marathon Over 50s competition (men)

WilkinsMark50103904:04:111st place over 50 men

WallAndrew54108704:11:022nd place over 50 men
MaoudisAndros55100204:22:363rd place over 50 men

Full Marathon Over 50s competition (women)

SadlerAngie52103704:18:281st place over 50 woman

Davis Merilyn53107705:06:222nd place over 50 woman

MillettJacqueliine59111605:23:153rd place over 50 woman

Full marathon Over 60s competition (men)

RoseStuart60105404:33:221st place over 60 men

SolomonMichael60107306:11:562nd place over 60 men
HowellsPhillip65103307:31:433rd place over 60 men