The Devil's Spittleful by Wendy Carter

The Devil's Spittleful by Wendy Carter

The Devil's Spittleful and Blackstone Farm Fields

79ha
Dog on a lead
Volunteer Group
One of the largest areas of heathland and heathland re-creation in the county

Location

Sandy Lane (next to West Midland Safari Park SO807759) OR Blackstone Car Park (A456 SO796744)
Kidderminster & Bewdley
DY12 1PU / DY12 1LW
A static map of The Devil's Spittleful and Blackstone Farm Fields

Know before you go

Size
79 hectares

Parking information

Park at WCC Blackstone car park on A456 between Stourport and Bewdley

Grazing animals

Cattle and sheep

Walking trails

Could be combined with a walk on the Severn Way.

Access

Please keep to paths (sandy) and abide by signs during the breeding season. There are kissing gates on site.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Dusk to dawn on The Devil's Spittleful. No access to Blackstone Farm Fields.

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

This impressive heathland is one of the largest areas of the habitat left in Worcestershire; it’s estimated that we’ve lost approximately 90% of heathland in the county over the last 200 years.

Visitors walk through a mosaic of habitats that thrive on acid soil; open areas are dominated by bell heather and acid grassland is dominated by wavy hair grass. 

Heaths were traditionally managed to provide grazing for livestock and many useful materials such as bracken for bedding, birch for brooms, kindling and firewood.  When farming practices changed, heathlands were generally abandoned as they are not productive by modern farming standards.  Since the 1950s this site gradually became dominated by scrub and young trees. We are reversing this and now graze the site and manage the scrub and tree cover. Grazing helps the regular management of gorse, broom and silver birch.  This provides different ages of plant, which is great for supporting a diverse group of wildlife whilst allowing the heathland to improve and expand.

The heather is at its best in late July and August but there are many other plants to discover - heath dog violet, early forget-me-not and small cudweed are in flower from June to September.  Grey hair grass and buck’s-horn plantain are also found on the reserve; they’re normally associated with coastal regions.

The combination of heathland, grassland, scrub and trees is perfect for invertebrates.  20 species of butterflies can be spotted – from pearl-bordered and silver-washed fritillaries to purple hairstreaks.  More than 160 species of moth have also been recorded here included barred tooth striped, grass wave, orange underwing and fox moth.  The reserve is great for bees and wasps and is known for three important species: the black mining bee Andrena nigrospina, a colony of Lasius fuliginosus ants and the hornet robber fly Asilus crabroniformis. The reserve is also great for fungi, with over 140 species including pine wood mushroom, oyster mushroom and liberty cap.  Visitors should keep a look out for redstart, tree pipit, cuckoo, wood warbler, lesser whitethroat, green woodpecker and sparrowhawk.

The reserve gets its name from the rocky sandstone knoll crowned with Scots pine.  It is known as The Devil’s Spittleful or Spadefull; a ‘spit’ was a spade’s depth and the area is thought to have got its name from a digging Diablo.  The cave beneath the rock has become unstable and is now no longer safe to view.

We bought the neighbouring Blackstone Farm Fields in 2007 and are gradually returning them to heathland.  It's a long process but as heathland-loving plants thrive in poor quality soil, we've begun by reducing nutrient levels.  The adjacent Rifle Range and Burlish Top nature reserves are owned and managed by Wyre Forest District Council.  

Bigger, better and more joined up

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 we need our countryside to be bigger, better and more joined up to provide a coherent network of large areas linked by corridors that can provide benefits for people as well as for biodiversity.

This is an important heathland site with extensive restoration and creation taking place and is an ideal place where we can share our experiences of the long-term management of heathland and its creation and management of associated nationally important flora and invertebrates. The reserves fall within the Wyre Forest Heathlands identified as one seven priorities in Worcestershire for its Living Landscapes approach.

Contact us

Andy Harris
Contact number: 01905 754919

Environmental designation

Special Site of Scientific Interest

Location map