At over 500m above sea level, the Stiperstones are
one of Shropshire's best-known landmarks.
Devil's Chair, Cranberry Rock and other jagged, quartzite tors along the ridge
of the Stiperstones are visible miles away.
Photo - Shropshire Wildlife Trust/Ben Osborne
This is heathland with Skylarks, Curlew, Raven and Buzzard.
National Nature Reserve is owned by Natural England but managed with help from
Shropshire Wildlife Trust volunteers.
They are the remains of lead mine
workings all over the Stiperstones.
The area's industrial heyday was in
the 18th and 19th Centuries, but this fell into decline when the price of lead
slumped in the early 1900s.
The last miner's cottage was abandoned just
over 50 years ago.
Berries and birds
and whinberry (the local name for bilberry) once spread much further across the
Stiperstones than they do today.
Conifer plantations have bitten large
chunks out of its purple covering, while reseeding and heavy fertilising of old
grassland have transformed fields once studded with wild flowers, replacing them
with vivid, green pastures.
This wild and dramatic landscape is literally
steeped in ancient folklore and it is even said that on the midwinter solstice
all the ghosts of the county assemble here.
However, if you are after a
great autumn wildlife walk through a mystical part of England the Stiperstones
stomp is necessary!
For over five miles, this route will take you through
the far reaches of Shropshire and into the Welsh Marches.
The geology of
this part of England is particualrly special.
Part of the area was once
a sub tropical beach.
These quartzite outcrops represent the baked sands
of a 500m-year-old beach.
All the hills around it have gradually been eroded
away by wind and rain, but the most dramatic sculptural work probably took place
when ice sheets rolled over this area during the last ice age.
being tough stuff to shift stood firm and that is why this rocky outcrop is still
Q. What are these small holes in the rock? (worm holes).
area is prone to lightening strikes as a result of its geology.
one thing which Stiperstones has in abundance is autumn berries including Cowberry,
Crowberry and Bilberries.
Some of the most colourful are on the Rowan or
You know this was once planted outside houses to ward off
and in some parts of Scotland there is still strong superstition
against cutting them down.
The berries on this tree are a favourite food
for many birds, and can also be consumed by humans.
Rowan berries have
a slightly bitter taste but make an excellent preserve which is traditionally
eaten with game.
They are also a known laxative.
Bilberries are also
common. In Scotland Bilberries are also called blaeberries, in the States they
are known as Huckleberries and in Shropshire they are called Whinberries.
were once sent to Manchester for use in dyeing in the textile industry.
walking the ridge it's well worth stopping off to do a bit of birding.
can see are plenty of Kestrels out hunting and the area is also literally buzzing
The Buzzard is the commonest of our birds of prey and in
recent years, their population has exploded across the English Midlands.
being quite common, they are still an impressive creature to see in flight and
we are getting great views today.
These birds can soar to great heights
rising on thermals.
The Buzzard owes much of its success to the fact it
is adaptability to feed on road kill or taking down its own prey.
provides a great hunting habitat for thes birds.
This heathland habitat
is also great for Red Grouse.
The Devil's Chair
Devil's Chair is one of the most famous high spots on the ridge.
that on a clear day you can see as far as the Peak District, the Malvern's, west
Wales and the Black Mountains, depending on which direction you're looking.
a truly wild location in every sense.
courtesy and copyright of Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Ben Osborne.
Grouse courtesy of RSPB Images and Tom Marshall.