Up to date information about the National Trust owned area of Wenlock Edge, set in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Regular updates from the Rangers regarding ongoing projects and upcoming events.
The lovely dry weather of late has enabled us to winch out some of the timber that has been felled over the Winter, when the conditions are so good we have to make the most of it as driving the tractor on the slopes is much easier and causes very little ground disturbance. This allows us to get closer to the timber meaning that we don't have to pull the chains and cables as far. The lengths of timber are now piled up on the old railway line awaiting cutting and stacking, this can be done no matter what the weather so can wait for the time being. It will eventually become firewood.
We recently had the pleasure of a visit from all the pupils of Rushbury School, however they didn't simply come for a walk in the woods, they helped to improve it by all planting a tree.
The trees that they planted were as part of the global initiative run by the "United Nations Environment Programme" called the "Billion Tree Campaign - Plant for the Planet", more details about the campaign can be found here.
The area chosen to plant the trees is on Wenlock Edge and is visible from the school, species planted were, Wild Service, Rowan, Cherry, Crab Apple and Lime, all of which are native to this area. It is hoped that when these trees mature and flower they will be easily spotted from the School playground whilst also offering valuable sources of nectar and fruit for a wide variety of wildlife.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with the children, some of whom had enjoyed the same experience last year. They all helped each other and carried out the task with great enthusiasm and knowledge about what they were doing and why they were doing it.
All the trees were fitted with special guards to protect them from deer and will probably be coming into leaf very shortly, it will be amazing for the children to be able to return and see the woodland develop over the following years and is something they will be able to enjoy and take a great deal of satisfaction from forever.
Today some of our flock of Hebridean sheep returned to Wenlock Edge to graze the different areas of species rich limestone grassland. They will remove the early grass growth and be removed before the wildflowers come through, they have been in Batch Valley on the Long Mynd for the winter as there was not enough food to sustain them on the Edge. After a week or two of beautiful weather everything is suddenly beginning to grow so they ought to be happy in their new temporary homes. We also took the opportunity to carry out some basic sheep husbandry whilst they were rounded up, all of the flock needed their hooves trimming and we also checked their teeth and general condition. Considering the harsh winter that we have experienced they were all in pretty good shape, confirming that they are a hardy breed, used to tough conditions. It may be possible if your lucky to see the sheep from the footpath along the top of Lea Quarry, please do not climb the fence to get a closer look. It is also possible to see them in the field opposite the Wenlock Edge Inn, again do not try to get too close as there are a few rams within the flock that may take steps to protect themselves!
We were once again visited by the Wolverhampton National Trust Conservation Volunteers . The task today was clearing scrub from a woodland ride that has become overgrown, the group have worked here before as have our Tuesday volunteers and today we linked the previously cleared areas up. When the job is finished wild flowers will flourish and butterflies will enjoy the sunny aspect as well as the nectar from the flowers.
We were going to do this job just before Christmas but treacherous road conditions meant that the workday was cancelled, as you can see there were no such problems today.
A great turnout of 12 volunteers armed with bow saws and loppers got straight to work cutting down all the trees that had been marked whilst 2 fires were lit to burn the brash on.
By the time the first cake break was called, both fires were burning well and getting rid of plenty of scrub, it was already possible to see a big improvement.
After lunch the high work rate continued with some of the bigger trees being felled, after a bit more scrub was cleared the link between the two areas was completed.
More cake was consumed mid-afternoon and after this we took out a bit more scrub from around the edges, the excellent weather and lovely work site along with good company meant that everyone seemed to want to keep going!
Another brilliant day.
If you are interested in carrying out practical conservation work, meet like minded people and have some time to spare at weekends then maybe the group is for you. Although they are called the Wolverhampton Group they actually work at
National Trust sites all over Shropshire and
Staffordshire. Take a look at their website for
contact details and information.
Currently being seen around the bird hide at Presthope are;
Long Tailed Tits,
Great Spotted Woodpecker,
Spring is definately in the air on Wenlock Edge,
I came accross this frog spawn over the weekend in a small wet area. I just hope it doesn't dry out if we get a long period without rain!
I also saw and heard hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing gathered in trees on the edge of the woodland, i assume that they are preparing to head back to Scandinavia very soon.
As some species depart we await the arrival of our summer migrants, the first of these to arrive is usually the Chiffchaff with its easily recognisable call of chiff chaff chiff chaff which it repeats very regularly.
Wild Garlic is beginning to appear in the woods, forcing its way up through last years fallen leaves, it will soon give the woods a lovely garlic aroma.
This is Coltsfoot, it is one of the first flowers of Spring, it flowers so early that the leaves aren't even out yet, these will appear once flowering is over.
It is part of the Daisy and Dandelion family and grows on bare ground, this one is along the top of Lea Quarry next to the footpath.
Had two more successful Nordic Walking sessions today, both were fully booked and all participants seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a chilly start to the day but we soon warmed up as instructors Martin and Sue got us walking around the car park to get us used to the poles and the correct technique. We then set off on a four mile walk along the Edge, unfortunately we were in the fog all day and so views were limited, the groups were of mixed abilities but this didn't matter as we regularly stopped to re-group and discuss how it was going. Everyone found that as they walked further the poles seemed to become part of them rather than feeling strange as they had done at the start. Hopefully some of those who took part will take up the activity as part of their excercise routine as getting out in the countryside for an energetic walk certainly beats going to the gym.
There are more sessions on May 14th for those wanting to give it a go, starting at 10am and 1pm from the National Trust car park on the outskirts of Much Wenlock. The cost is just £6 per person, great value for two hours of tuition and guidance, pole hire is also included. Booking is essential either call 07948072075 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org