Earl's and Pontesford Hill
Know before you go
Parking informationSmall car park at the bottom of the hill. The car park can get busy, so please park sensibly to allow the maximum numbers of cars onto the car park.
Grazing animalsSheep and cows at certain times of the year, in the fields and on the top of the reserve - please keep dogs on a lead where the signs indicate.
Footpaths lead around the hill, through grazing pasture, or head up through the woodlands.
Park at Pontesford Hill car park, SY5 0UH. The car park is approximately 500 yards down Pontesford Hill Road on the left hand side. To reach it turn off A488 adjacent to Wynnstay County Store which is on the eastern boundary of Pontesford.
From the car park the site is open. You will encounter mostly gates and the occasional stile within the site. The former forestry track has a hard, stoned surface. Once this runs out it becomes a mixture of rocky “steps” and it can be very muddy in parts. The whole site is steep, but one track follows the more or less contour around both hills although this track does undulate.
This site caters for many abilities, but be careful as some of the well trodden paths become very steep, muddy and slippery.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
Local people see the shape of a sleeping dragon in Earl’s and Pontesford 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 at the lofty summit around 600 BC.
In 1964 Earls Hill became the Trust’s very first nature reserve. In 2016, with the support of local people we purchased adjoining Pontesford Hill.
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. 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.