A historic reserve with volcanic origins
Local people see the shape of a sleeping dragon in Earl’s Hill and fiery its beginnings certainly were. This distinctive, humped hill roared forth from a volcano some 650 million years ago. An Iron Age hill fort was built on its lofty summit around 600 BC and in 1964 it became the Trust’s very first nature reserve.
A hill such as this invites you to climb to the top and if you can manage the very steep climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views and grassland studded with flowers. But Earl’s Hill is renowned for its variety of wildlife habitats and there is a great deal more to be explored and discovered on its lower slopes.
In spring the wood – hazel, oak, field maple, holly and yew - is awash with bluebells and singing with migrant birds, encouraged to breed here by the provision of numerous nest boxes. Dippers can be spotted flying just above the stream, or bobbing up and down on rocks. There is fine old meadowland here, with anthills of the yellow hill ant – a favoured feeding ground for green woodpeckers. In summer look out for the tiny purple flowers of wild thyme and butterflies, such as small blues and orange tips.
Directions: Look out for the reserve sign in Pontesford, turning off the A488 up a lane. There is a small car park about 700 yards up. Two routes are waymarked around the hill; the green signs for the easier route and the purple for the more demanding route that leads to the summit.
Species and habitats