Lea and Pagets Wood

Lea & Pagets Wood (Chris Harris)

Situated on the south-western slopes of the Woolhope Dome, Lea & Pagets Wood is arguably one of the finest ancient semi-natural, broad-leaved woodlands left in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Its ancient status is not in doubt, with the name Lea, meaning forest or wood, indicating possible pre-Anglo-Saxon origins and the woodland flora contains a large number of ancient woodland indicator species. Silurian limestone underlies much of the site and the associated soils are medium-heavy, calcareous, and free-draining. Quicklime was manufactured here in the 19th century and two lime kilns, possibly dating from 1833, are found near the reserve entrance. A well-marked track runs from the kilns to the disused limestone quarry in neighbouring Church Wood. In some areas the surface soils have become heavily leached and the base content is much reduced. The valley bottom in Pagets Wood is poorly drained and collects water run-off from the surrounding slopes. In earlier times the wood was much larger, with Pagets Wood extending down to the main B4224 road.

The wood has a complex structure, dominated partly by sessile oak and partly by ash, with other tree species mixed in, particularly wild cherry, yew, silver birch and wild service. The woodland understorey is mainly composed of hazel and field maple, together with some hawthorn, holly, crab-apple and spindle, and occasional coppiced wych elms. Near the wood boundaries both large and small-leaved limes occur. In some areas, particularly in Pagets Wood, coppiced sweet chestnut is abundant as a result of 19th century plantings. An area of alders occurs in the north-west section of the reserve, associated with the tufa-depositing stream running in the valley bottom of Pagets Wood. Large and spectacular drifts of bluebells make a fine show in springtime, mixed in with impressive numbers of ancient woodland indicators like wood anemone and early purple orchids. Many other interesting plants indicative of old woods add to the botanical diversity, including herb Paris, wild daffodil, sanicle, wild liquorice and greater butterfly orchid. In 2001 a single frond of the very scarce moonwort fern was found off the main track in Pagets Wood.

Lea & Pagets is also good for birds, with a small breeding population of pied flycatchers in nest-boxes, and a fine range of typical woodland species. These include all three woodpecker species (although lesser spotted woodpeckers have not been recorded for some years) and warblers such as blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff and the occasional wood warbler. Nuthatches, treecreepers, marsh tits, jays, buzzards, tawny owls and sparrowhawks are all frequently seen.

Apart from common species like green-veined white, orange tip, and speckled wood, Lea & Pagets is home to a number of less usual butterflies. Brimstones, white admirals and wood whites maintain small populations here, and this is a good place to see the spectacular silver-washed fritillary nectar-feeding on brambles.

The wood has an excellent mammal fauna, including a thriving population of dormice. Other small mammals present in some numbers are wood mouse, yellow-necked mouse, bank vole and common shrew. Foxes and badgers are also present, while groups of fallow deer are frequently seen. Brown long-eared, pipistrelle and noctule bats have been recorded in the bat boxes present in the reserve.

Recent surveys have revealed that Lea & Pagets is rich in other taxonomic groups too. Over 30 species of mollusc have been recorded, with a typical range of species inhabiting lime-rich woodland, while a recent fungus survey found 106 different species (including myxomycetes and lichens). In 2002 a survey of beetles present revealed a rich variety including four scarce species and the very rare Agathidium confusum.




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Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum

Queenswood (Chris Harris)

Queenswood is the only designated Country Park in Herefordshire. It is home to a 67 acre tree collection (arboretum) with over 1,200 rare and exotic trees from all over the world and 103 acres of semi-natural ancient woodland which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

Queenswood Country Park is managed by the Herefordshire Council Countryside Service in partnership with the Queenswood Coronation Fund (registered charity No. 518624).

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Dog Hill Wood

Situated in the heart of the town, accessed by a path just behind the Church in Ledbury, this is a mixed deciduous wood with mature oak, ash and yew, and is full of wood anemones, bluebells and primroses in spring.

Dog Hill Wood – Woodland Trust



Coneygree Wood

This is an ancient woodland site of 56 hectares, rich in plant and insect life. There is evidence of prehistoric occupation, such as neolithic flints implements and, in more recent times, the sites of a water-mill and lime-kiln.

With its public footpath to the north, linking Ledbury with Eastnor, a bridleway to the south which passes up The Bullen and crosses to Eastnor, and its easy access from the town, this wood is popular with residents and visitors.

A Naturalists’ Field Study in 2005 recorded 166 species of flowers along the edges of rides and in clearings, including primrose, cowslip, wood anemone, a range of violets, common spotted and early purple orchid and yellow figwort. Oak, ash, hazel, field maple, spindle and hornbeam are among 47 species of tree recorded.

Small-leaved lime and wild service trees indicate the woodland’s ancient origins. Bird life included the green and greater-spotted woodpeckers, tree-creeper and goldcrest among the 28 species found. There was a wealth of butterflies and moths, including holly and common blues, painted lady, marbled white and small copper butterflies. There are badger setts, and grey squirrels and Muntjak deer have left their traces.

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Ledbury Riverside Walk

The riverside meadows include a walk from the Hereford Road to the Ross Road. A stretch of the River Leadon, from Dickinson’s roundabout to just beyond the Little Marcle roundabout, was diverted during the construction of the by-pass. The northern stretch of the meadows is formally maintained, with mown grass, gravel paths and groups of planted shrubs. The southern stretch (affected by diversion of the river) is more natural, with long grass and a track beside the river.

The Naturalists Field Club surveyed the walk in 1999 to ascertain how well this riverside habitat had been colonised by wildlife. Because much of the riverside was new or disturbed, colonisation by wildlife was in its infancy, but nevertheless the diversity found included 154 species of flowers, 25 of trees (including 5 types of willow) 43 species of birds (including willow-warbler, common whitethroat, yellow- hammer, chiffchaff and other finches) and 18 types of butterfly.

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Queen’s Wood, Dymock

Daffodils, Queenswood Dymock (Chris Harris)

An Ancient Woodland Site of 506 hectares (1214 acres) approximately half of this area is conifer, mainly Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir.

The remainder of the wood comprises broad-leaved trees, largely Oak and Beech.

The woods are noted for their show of spring flowers, in particular the Wild Daffodils.

The whole area is home to a variety of plants and animals, both common and rare. Particularly rich in fauna and flora are the Nature reserves within the woods, namely the SSSI and ASNW.

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Ledbury Town Trail

The Town Trail runs from Ledbury Station in the north to the Ross Road in the south and follows the route of the former Gloucester to Ledbury canal and subsequent railway. It is much used by walkers and cyclists. From the station to Bridge Street, the track mainly follows the old railway track along a high embankment shaded by tall trees and well-drained. From Bridge Street southwards, the track is more sheltered, with a mix of habitats, including a deep cutting and planted woodland.

Ledbury Naturalists Field Club carried out a survey from March to October 1999 and found a rich variety of wildlife, including 183 species of flowers, 35 of trees, 35 of birds (including blackcap, goldcrest and chiffchaff) and 15 types of butterfly. The club found a much greater range of flowers than in a previous survey of 1965.




Woolhope Dome

Woolhope Dome (Chris Harris)

The Woolhope Dome is an area of distinct hills to the west of Ledbury. A predominantly pastoral and wooded landscape, part of it lies within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area – more than 5000 hectares – takes in the parishes of Brockhampton, Dormington & Mordiford, Fownhope, How Caple, Much Marcle, Pixley, Putley, Tarrington, and of course Woolhope itself.

The Dome has a unique geological background and for the most part, its eroded hills and valleys have not been intensively farmed. As a consequence, the Dome is a rich mosaic of ancient oak and mixed woodlands, species-rich hedgerows, wildflower meadows, traditional orchards and streams, all supporting a wealth of wildlife.

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Malvern Hills

Malvern Hills (Chris Harris)

The Malvern Hills are part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with scenic views over both Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The Hills run north/south for about 13 km (8 miles), in between Great Malvern and the village of Colwall, and overlook the River Severn valley to the east, with the Cotswolds beyond. The highest point of the hills is the Worcestershire Beacon at 425 metres (1,394 ft) above sea level (OS Grid reference SO768452). The hills are famous for their natural mineral springs and wells, which were responsible for the development of Great Malvern as a spa in the early 19th century. Until recently, Malvern water was bottled commercially on a large scale and sold worldwide.

There are three passes over the hills, the Wyche cutting, the A438 road north of Raggedstone Hill and the A449 road just north of the Herefordshire Beacon, the site of the British Camp, an Iron Age hill fort at the top of the hill. The site is thought to date back before the Common Era and has been extended subsequently by a medieval castle. The extensive earthworks remain clearly visible today and determine the shape of the hill.

The Malvern Hills are formed of some of the most ancient rocks in England, mostly igneous and metamorphic rocks from the late Precambrian, known as the Uriconian, which are around 680 million years old.

The Hills have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Features of the Malvern Hills AONB include wide areas of acid grassland and heath on the summit and mixed broadleaved woodland and Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland on the lower hills and valleys. There are three areas of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland in the Malvern Hills SSSI: Hollybush Roughs between the boundary of Castlemorton Common and the Midsummer Hill fort, Park Wood in West Malvern and an area near Holy Well above Malvern Wells.

Key species include dormouse, Barbastelle bat, skylark, high brown fritillary butterfly, great crested newt, adder and black poplar.


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Frith Wood

Bluebells, Frith Wood (Chris Harris)

Frith Wood is a 75 hectare wood, owned and managed by Forestry England It lies just to the north of Ledbury, on the western edge of the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and occupies a roughly north-east/south-west aligned limestone ridge. The wood is almost 2km long and 300m wide. The highest point of Frith Wood is called Bradlow Knoll at 260m above Ordnance Datum.

The tracks through Frith Wood provide an opportunity to explore an historic landscape on foot. Both the woodland boundaries and usage have changed with the passage of time, and traces of man’s activities in the past are still visible today. The northwestern part of the wood is primarily chestnut coppice. The northeastern part is conifer and the southern end is old coppice; a mixture of ash, oak, chestnut, hazel, birch and some small-leaved lime.

Many of the tracks in Frith Wood have been given names by pupils of John Masefield School, Ledbury.

The Ledbury Naturalists Field Club survey of 2002/3 found that the overgrown wood and the conifers excluded light and reduced plant variety. Forestry England have long- term plans to return the area to traditional mixed woodland, with areas of standard trees and new coppice. Their improvements are already showing benefit to wildlife.

The survey showed 154 species of plant, including some rarely seen in the county, such as the violet helleborine. There were common spotted and early purple orchids, and probably the best showing in the county of the spreading bellflower. There were 39 species of tree, 33 of bird (including goshawk, linnet, goldcrest, nuthatch and tawny owl) and 26 of butterfly and moth, including comma, gatekeeper, red admiral, peacock, orange-tip and holly blue. There are eight species of bats living and breeding in the wood.

Further information about Frith Wood can be found in the following publications.
Ledbury people and parish before the Reformation by Sylvia Pinches 2010, published by Victoria County History

View in Google Maps: Frith Wood