Oaks do not die easily. When this steep valley wood was felled in the 1960s and conifers planted instead, it must have looked as though the old woodland had gone forever. Not so. From their broad and mossy stumps the trees sprang back to life, sending out six or seven slender trunks each. The Trust recognised its potential for restoration and bought the wood in 1981.
Most of the conifers have now been felled and light once again shines into this long thin strip of woodland. That leap of faith in the forces of nature has paid off and every year the wood becomes more like its old self. Now, in late spring bluebells once again flood the ground, with yellow archangel and early purple orchids also re-emerging.
The wood is also home to a colony of dormice, first discovered here nesting in a bird box. Sleepy the dormouse certainly is, but when awake, it climbs to the tops of trees, travelling from one to the next where the outmost twigs of one overlap with its neighbour. This aerial route makes it possible for the dormouse to forage on both sides of the road in Hope Valley. Curiously, they have been found in the remaining areas of conifers too. Blocks of these will be retained, though with glades cut in for light. Conifers have their uses: goldcrests live among them, tree-creepers scuttle up their trunks finding food and they can also make good nesting sites.
Directions: Approach Hope Valley along the A488, 3 miles south of Minsterley. Park in the car park, on the west side of the main road.
Ownership: Shropshire Wildlife Trust (1981)
Postcode: SY5 0JA
Grid ref: SJ 354 020
There are well-marked paths throughout the woods including, on the southern side, a flight of more than 100 steps, constructed by our hardworking volunteers, leading up to the top and fine views over to the Stiperstones.