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Piper's Hill & Dodderhill Commons

Piper's Hill is very sensitive and we do not allow shelters or fires to be built there. Fallen timber is left to benefit wildlife. Shelters will be dismantled. Thank you.

Also known as Hanbury Woods, this relict wood pasture reserve contains some of the oldest trees in the county

Also known as Hanbury Woods these two old commons are former ancient wood pasture where, historically, livestock grazed on grassland scattered with large trees.  Woodlands have been grazed to create wood pasture since at least the Middle Ages.  This was often associated with old commons where the owner granted rights to the commoners to graze their cattle, sheep and pigs.  Trees were often planted and protected to grow large timber, giving rise to old, widely-spaced trees with a grassy woodland floor – something between woodland and parkland.

Today the nature reserve has over 240 veteran trees – some of the oldest in the county – which have grown over several hundred years.  These old trees support a huge range of wildlife as well as being historically and culturally significant in their own right.  The trees grew in open spaces where they developed widely-spreading branches.  They were often pollarded (branches harvested for small timber, cut at head height or above, out of the reach of grazing animals) and allowed to re-grow.  Many of the trees on the reserve bear the signs of pollarding – particularly ancient beech, sweet chestnuts and oaks – and have spreading crowns typical of trees that have grown in open conditions.

The trees are great for fungi and over 200 species have been found – chanterelle, beefsteak and various bracket fungi are among some of the more common.  The reserve is also home to some rarer fungi including the Rhodotus palmatus, which requires a supply of dead elm, and the rare bracket fungus Hericium cirrhatum which can be found at the end of freshly cut beech trunks.

All three species of woodpecker are attracted by the old trees as well as tits and nuthatches.  The dead wood is fantastic for saproxylic species of beetle – those dependent on dead or dying wood at some point during their life cycle.  The old fish pond at the edge of the wood is inhabited by a variety of freshwater invertebrates and is worth visiting.

During the last century grazing on the commons reduced substantially and saplings began to fill in the spaces between the trees.  These vigorous young trees have started to shade out the older oaks and sweet chestnuts and, left unchecked, this competition for nutrients and light can cause the veteran trees to die.  We’re gradually restoring the wood pasture by felling carefully selected beech trees – much of the dead wood is left on site to provide habitat for fungus and invertebrates.  In time we hope to re-introduce grazing onto the reserve.


Flagship Nature Reserves

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 Pipers Hill and Dodderhill Common a Flagship Reserve?

This is a nationally important wood pasture restoration site, our work will show how to protect and ensure the future of veteran trees and how to secure the long term management through grazing. This will involve extensive public consultation and involvement.

The reserve lies within the Forest of Feckenham, which has been identified as a target area for the Trust to try and expand its land holding, and increase biodiversity through partnership working with private landowners.

Nearby nature reserves

Foster's Green Meadows
1 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
The Christopher Cadbury Wetland Reserve at Upton Warren
2 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
Hornhill Wood
4 miles - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

2 miles north of Hanbury village on B4091
B60 4AS
Map reference
SO 960 649
Great for...
ancient trees
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
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Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Dawn to dusk
15.50 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
Forest of Feckenham

No wheelchair access.
Walking information
Some paths on difficult terrain. Public footpaths run through woodland and will be muddy and slippery underfoot when wet. Do not remove any fallen wood from reserve.
Car park at northern end of reserve
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Eleanor Reast
Tel: 01905 754919

Autumn at Piper's Hill & Dodderhill Commons



by Martin Addison FRPS