9th Nov 2015 Work will begin to reduce tree cover over the northern side of Big Meadow - download our Improving Big Meadow pdf to find out more.
Beautiful reserve consisting of old valley meadows, woodland & orchard
The trail around the Knapp and Papermill starts in an apple orchard with old lichen-encrusted trees that attract nuthatches and green woodpeckers. In autumn and early winter visitors should keep an eye out for butterflies such as red admiral and peacock or birds like fieldfare and redwing feasting on the fallen fruit. There’s an observation screen in the orchard by the Leigh Brook that overlooks a bank where kingfishers often nest.
The Leigh Brook has cut a winding valley with steep woodlands and rich meadows. Look for grey wagtails and dippers on the brook and, during the winter months, listen for flocks of long-tailed tits and siskins in the brook-side alders. Dragonflies and damselflies thrive on the brook during spring and summer but only the luckiest of visitors may catch sight of an otter.
The trail takes visitors along the brook, around meadows and through woodland. Big Meadow is a hay meadow with flowers such as knapweed, ox-eye daisy and yellow rattle together with a scattering of green-winged and common spotted orchids. Papermill Meadow is an old pasture on slightly more acid soil. This meadow is a favourite hunting ground for buzzards that breed in the valley. The much smaller Tor Meadow has orchids and cowslips. Butterflies frequent all three meadows and more than 30 species have been recorded here including common and holly blue, brimstone, purple hairstreak and white admiral Each meadow is maintained by hay cutting and/or grazing.
Woodland occupies about half the reserve and some areas are managed by coppicing. This traditional method of cutting down young stems to near ground level on a rotation ensures that trees never die and there is always a range of habitats for wildlife at different stages of re-growth. Coppicing helps encourage the marvellous carpet of bluebells and other wildflowers (yellow archangel, stitchwort and wild garlic) that can be seen each spring.
Wild service trees grow in profusion here along with both small and large-leaved lime amongst the predominant oaks and hazels. Dormice are being encouraged through the provision of special nest boxes, as are many species of birds and bats. The reserve is important for bats and 11 of the UK’s 15 regular breeding species are found here.
A trail leaflet to help guide visitors around the reserve is available from the small information centre near the entrance. A family trail guide and information booklet are available to buy from our online shop or the information centre.
This is one of 13 flagship reserves.We believe that a landscape-scale approach to wildlife conservation is essential. Wildlife needs space to adapt and move to cope with the consequences of climate change. Practically, this means that to deliver our biodiversity vision, we need to develop a coherent network of large areas linked by corridors that can provide benefits for people as well as for biodiversity.
Why is the Knapp and Papermill a Flagship Reserve?
On this site we are developing the educational use without adversely affecting the wildlife habitats or impacting on the quiet enjoyment by other visitors. A visitor and volunteers building has been built using sustainable principles and including excellent provision for bats.
The nature reserve lies within the Teme Valley priority Living Landscapes area and the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.