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Blackhouse Wood

Nov 2017 Forestry work is ongoing throughout November. Please pay attention to the signs and be aware of machinery. 

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Blackhouse Wood, cloaking part of the Suckley Hills in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a fantastically rich ancient semi-natural woodland.

The wooded ridge is an important link between the Malvern Hills complex and the Wyre Forest; Blackhouse Wood is just over 1km from the Trust’s flagship nature reserve, The Knapp and Papermill.

The vivid green heart-shaped leaves of the small and large leaved lime, which grow readily in the woodland, can be seen around the reserve in spring and summer. Large-leaved lime is the rarest of our native lime trees and the trees at Blackhouse form part of a long-studied west Worcestershire population that many believe are remnant of the original wild wood – before human intervention at the end of the last ice age.

Hornbeam and oak, an uncommon species mix for Worcestershire and the west of England, can be found growing together in parts of the woodland. Hawfinches love hornbeam seed and have previously bred in the wood; keep an eye out for their striking orange, russet and grey plumage in winter finch flocks.

The limestone bedrock of Much Wenlock and Lower Ludlow shale supports a rich mix of flora (calcicolus – calcium loving) that are scarce within Worcestershire. Active ride and glade management benefits wood vetch, nettle-leaved bellflower, rock rose, yellow wort, wild thyme and tutsan.

The wood is also notable for the richness of its moths. Monthly surveys recorded 493 species on site within the first year (2014), with little thorn, pauper pug and four-spot footman being the highlights.

As with the adjacent Crews Hill there are a number of former hand quarries that run along the western edge of the site. These quarries have made parts of the woodland difficult to manage and are, in part, responsible for the survival of many of the older and more ecologically interesting trees.

 

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Vision for Restoration

In the 1960s Blackhouse, like many ancient woodlands, was almost entirely clear-felled as part of what at the time was seen as a drive for timber productivity. Only a small number of trees were retained along boundaries, field edges and on steep ground around the quarries. The clear-felled woodland was then planted with a variety of conifers – western red cedar, Douglas fir, European larch and Norway spruce – in addition to beech, which is outside its natural range in Worcestershire.

In 2015, when we purchased the wood, around 40% still contained conifer and although large conifer blocks still exist, much of what is left is intermixed with broad-leaves. Blackhouse would almost certainly be a Site of Special Scientific Interest were it not for the woodland clearance and re planting.

Despite the planting, the site still has many interesting ancient woodland features and was granted Local Wildlife Site status in July 2007.

We will continue the Previous Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) restoration, started by the former owner, by removing non-native tree species, with the exception of one or two large conifer trees retained as raptor nesting sites. We will revert the woodland back to its natural tree mix of ash and field maple (National Vegetation Classification W8) with a rich hornbeam and lime component, over a period of 5-15 years.

Following clearance we will restock through natural regeneration, supplemented with oak and field maple planting outside of the hornbeam and lime areas. We will manage the hornbeam and veteran lime stools and coppice to maximise their life-span and ensure future succession as well as widen the main ride system with the aim of managing them on a three tier system (bare ground and grass, coppice, and trees) to maximise the opportunities for invertebrates and flora to flourish.

 

Thank you

The purchase of Blackhouse Wood would not have been possible without the help and support of:

 

Our members and supporters

Heritage Lottery Fund

Severn Waste Services through the Landfill Communities Fund

The Rowlands Trust

The Banister Charitable Trust

The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust

The Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust

 

Heritage Lottery Fund logoSevern Waste Services logo

 

 

Nearby nature reserves

Crews Hill Wood
1 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
The Knapp and Papermill Nature Reserve
1 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
Aileshurst Coppice
3 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Blackhouse Wood
Suckley
Worcestershire
WR6 5DW
Great for...
birdwatching
butterflies
Best time to visit
Apr - Oct
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open between dawn and dusk
Size
39.00 hectares
Status
Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB)
Local Wildlife Site (LWS)
Access
Yes

Wheelchair access by arrangement along surfaced tracks only.
Walking information
Part of the reserve has a surfaced track but most of the paths are muddy and slippery underfoot when wet.
Parking
2-3 spaces at edge of gateway on lane that runs from Stocks Road to Blackhouse Farm. Please do not block the gates here. Access is needed at all times.
Dogs
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
Dominique Cragg
Tel: 01905 754919
dom@worcestershirewildlifetrust.org

Downloads

Factsheets and guides for your visit

Worcs Woods & Wildlife Walk

Find out more about this eight mile walk through some of Worcestershire's most beautiful woodland

Blackhouse Wood view (c) Paul Lane