In early 2016, as part of a funded project to save Blackhouse Wood near Suckley, I was lucky enough to leave my desk and go in search of a walk! This beautiful ancient semi-natural woodland cloaks part of the Suckley Hills, is adjacent to our Crews Hill Wood and is just down the road from one of our most popular nature reserves, The Knapp and Papermill; the privately owned Ravenshill Wood is nearby. How better to share their wild delights than to develop a walk that takes them all in?
One beautiful spring morning I set out with my conservation colleague responsible for our nature reserves in the area and a consultant who would eventually research and record the accompanying audio trail with Brett Westwood, a local naturalist and radio presenter. The walk passes through some of Worcestershire’s most beautiful and diverse countryside – rolling hills, complex geology, traditional orchards, ancient woodlands and more. We walked down timeworn holloways, beneath towering trees, through ghost hedges, passed hand-dug quarries and strolled alongside ancient boundaries.
Setting out from The Knapp and Papermill nature reserve at Alfrick Pound (limited parking available), the circular walk follows the Leigh Brook through our reserve, over Mousehole Bridge to Upper Tundridge before heading along the ridge of Blackhouse Wood and Crews Hill, down through Ravenshill Wood and into Alfrick before returning to The Knapp and Papermill.
Walkers have a chance of spotting kingfishers along the brook or woodpeckers in the orchards. Buzzards circle overhead, butterflies flutter along the woodland rides and, although they’re almost never seen, dormice will be wandering through the undergrowth. Whatever the season, it’s a beautiful walk – from celandines, wild garlic or bluebells through to orchids and autumn colour and fungi.
The eight mile circular walk is as varied for the legs as it is for the eyes! At the top of one of the steepest sections we were rewarded with a magnificent ancient lime tree that has been pollarded many times; we marvelled at the stories it could tell. It was certainly muddy in parts – it’s definitely a walk for stout shoes if it’s been wet recently. There are places to rest – Ravenshill Wood even has shelter if the weather takes a turn – and paths to take if you’d like to make the walk shorter or longer.
A booklet, with map, to help you find your way is available for just £1 from the info centre at The Knapp and Papermill. Alternatively, you can download the map and an audio trail (mp3) from our website www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/worcestershire-woods-wildlife-walk The audio trail is narrated by Worcestershire author, naturalist and radio presenter Brett Westwood.
If you fall in love with our woodlands and would like to take your walking a step further, why not consider joining us as a volunteer and help to maintain these beautiful places for wildlife. Visit our website for more information www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk
Download our introduction right now.
Photo credit: Paul Lane