Little sister to the famous Wrekin, The Ercall has its own grandeur. Ancient oak woodland, spectacular views and more than 500 million years of history can be enjoyed here.
Human activity is dramatically evident in the huge chunk blasted out of the hillside to provide road stone for the nearby A5. This was certainly destructive, but it had the unexpectedly wonderful effect of laying bare the earth's history; revealing rocks from the earliest beginnings of life on this planet. Ripples in the surface where waves lapped on an ancient shoreline some 500 million years ago are distinctly visible. Amazingly, this part of Britain used to be 60 degrees south of the equator - stand here on a wet, wintry day and imagine that.
It is not just old rocks that make The Ercall interesting. In spring the woods are awash with bluebells and singing with birds just returned from Africa, and in summer plentiful bird's-foot trefoil makes this a favoured stronghold of one of Telford's speciality butterflies, the dingy skipper. A recent survey of the nature reserve's invertebrates (butterflies, beetles, spiders, bees, bugs, ants, etc) yielded a staggering 821 species. An excellent place to look for fungi.
An easy, gentle walk takes you on to the quarry floor; to explore the woods properly and gain the views, a steep climb is necessary.
The Forest Glen, once the site of a celebrated local tea room, now a car park, was acquired by the Trust in 2005, with substantial assistance from Shropshire Horticultural Society. The Glen, with its dramatic rockface, is the gateway to the Wrekin, one of Shropshire's most famous and best-loved landmarks.
Directions: Take the Wellington turn off the A5 and go in the direction of Little Wenlock. Follow the signs to the Buckatree Hotel and the reserve entrance is just before (and opposite) the hotel.
Ownership: Shropshire Wildlife Trust (1999)
Postcode: TF6 5AL
Grid ref: SJ 644 095
A leaflet of walks in the Ercall woods can be downloaded here and an audio guide to the geology of the Ercall quarries can be downloaded here.