Know before you go
Tussocky ground, sometimes boggy.
Contact the Trust for access information.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to September
About the reserve
“With its swathes of heather, boggy pools and tussocky grass, it is one of the most enchanting and botanically-rich places in the county and a place of great tranquillity and power,” Professor Ian Trueman, botanist.
Wild, bleak and uncultivated, Catherton Common is an ancient landscape, dotted with houses and smallholdings. Large tracts of heather and furze make it a wonderful place for many birds that have vanished from other parts of the county, such as skylarks, linnets, meadow pipits, stonechats, wheatears and yellowhammers. A vast pesticide-free area, it’s also a haven for bees, dragonflies, bog bush crickets and many other insects.
Some of the heathland is unusual, with much cross-leaved heath and unusually, deergrass, which is rare in Shropshire and only really abundant in the wet heaths of Wales and northern Britain.
Look around the watery hollows of the common at the right time of year and you will find the tiny pink flowers of bog pimpernel, insectivorous purple butterwort, starry yellow bog asphodel and crimson sundews. There are some real rarities too – interesting things such as floating club-rush, soft-leaved sedge and the wondrously named bristly fingerwort. Dragonflies include the rare keeled skimmer and the golden ringed dragonfly.
The Clee Hills were treasured centuries ago for their coal and ironstone. Their value is evident by their inclusion (along with more famous locations such as the Garden of Eden and Jerusalem) on the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the largest medieval map known to exist. Coal and ironstone mining on Catherton Common is first mentioned in manorial accounts from 1410 and but it is likely extraction started long before then. Look out for old bellpits, now particularly good for those grassland jewels, the waxcaps.
Directions: Follow the A4117 (Ludlow to Cleobury Mortimer) over Clee Hill. At Doddington take the road towards Farlow and Oreton (due north). After 1 mile go over a cattle grid and you are on the common.