Monday, 22 June 2015

Wonderful Wilderhope Wild Flowers

Wilderhope is a brilliant place to go for a walk because of the impressive manor and stunning views but it is especially beautiful at this time of year with its many wild flower meadows. The meadows are full of flowers such as yellow rattle, red clover and bird's foot trefoil and are humming with pollinators!

In our very small meadow called the pudding bag a number of common-spotted orchids are flowering. We are really pleased that these species are present as it shows that our long-term grassland management which involves, mowing, grazing and hay strewing is working. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Our Tuesday Tasks

Over the past month we have had contractors thinning along the railway through Easthope wood. We have been winching the felled trees out of the wood and stacking it along the track so that it is out of the way and ready to be collected and sold.  

Before work started
 Winching is tricky enough when you are pulling 2 tonne lengths on a slope but made even harder when you have to pull it through thick scrub. Therefore our volunteers have been clearing scrub from the ride side and burning it, this has already made a big improvement to timber extraction and is making the track feel wider and sunnier.    
The Johns cutting and burning the brash

The bank after we had cleared the scrub

A helping hand at Morville Hall

Last week we got a call from Alison Hopewell, NT rural surveyor who was trapped at Morville Hall by a fallen branch.

Last week we got a call from Alison Hopewell, NT rural surveyor who was trapped at Morville Hall by a fallen branch. The willow tree had two branches which had grown too close together and so were slowly pushing against one another. This pressure just continued to build as the tree grew and became heavier and heavier. This meant that the join was weak and it just couldn’t hold under the high winds and unfortunately for Alison it blocked the whole road narrowly missing the telephone cable. So we grabbed the chainsaws, headed over and processed the branch into manageable pieces before dragging it out of the way.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Volunteer induction walk

A little while ago we recruited a number of new volunteers to fill various roles at Wenlock Edge including; woodland volunteers, rangers and engagement volunteers. Their induction is ongoing with volunteers learning on the job and on organised training days. This week we led an ‘introduction to Wenlock Edge’ training day where we tried to give general background knowledge to some of our new volunteers. The heavens smiled on us and we were blessed with blue skies and bright sunshine. We wandered to smokey hole, granham’s mount, to major’s leap and back down blakeway hollow, taking in the impressive views as we went.

If you are interested in volunteering at Wenlock Edge please email me at to find out more information about what positions we have available.

Working together to connect children to nature

Over the past few weeks we have been working with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shropshire Hills AONB to deliver the John Muir Award to three local primary schools; Rushbury, Cockshutt and Lawley. To gain the award the children have to discover a wild place, they must explore it, conserve it and share their experiences with others. The Shropshire Wildlife Trust delivers the award primarily and this month with our support all three schools came to Wenlock Edge to undertake a number of activities.

Rushbury School undertook the first ever small mammal survey near Presthope, created insect habitats, completed a bird survey from the bird hide and learnt to identify different tree species. Cockshutt school also did a small mammal survey and then looked for fossils at Smokey hole and Lawley did a wild flower survey, insect survey and nettle bashing. We understand how important it is to inspire the next generation and to help them reconnect with nature. We are really happy that we could work in partnership with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shropshire Hills AONB to do so.

Wild flowers

Beautiful wild flowers have begun to spring up all over the Edge, in the woods, the verges and in our meadows. Small white sweet woodruff flowers are out (a relative of cleavers) and look lovely when they form thick patches. Sweet woodruff is often used to flavour foods and it makes a delicious herbal tea.

Sweet Woodruff

Greater butterfly orchid

You may still see a few early purple orchids hanging on and if you are lucky you might spot Greater butterfly orchids and pyramidal orchids just coming up as well. We have seen lots of spotty leaves coming up and so I’m sure that common-spotted orchids will be out soon too. We have just put some hebridean sheep back into the meadow at the Much Wenlock NT car park to keep the vigorous grasses down and it is full to the brim with buttercups and speedwells producing an amazingly colourful display.

Buttercups and speedwells in the Much Wenlock Meadow

Our famous dormice!

Last month Country file visited Wenlock Edge to find out more about the elusive dormice which inhabit our woods but failed to catch a glimpse. However this month Midlands today with David Gregory-Kumar came and after being chased by angry bees and nuthatches, risking life and limb checking nest boxes above cliff edges and temperamental weather conditions, we had success! The very last box we checked (which wasn’t even a dormouse box but a bird box) we discovered two beautiful dormice, which both posed happily for the camera before climbing high into the trees out of sight.

 Wenlock Edge is a dormouse stronghold and has the best dormouse population in the midlands; we hope that by protecting our dormice population they will spread into areas of surrounding suitable habitat. We have done this by acquiring more of the Edge over the last 30 years, by removing conifers and by reintroducing coppicing; all this has meant that at the last dormouse nest box check we recorded higher numbers than ever before. Dormice are protected so please do not look inside nest boxes unless you have a licence to disturb them.