With its fascinating history and special role within the county, it’s no surprise that Pontesford hill has been the subject of various news clips and short films over the years.
Here you can find links taking you to videos including a documentary film showing local school children honing their skills as natural historians, a clip from BBC radio Shropshire about the success of the locals securing the future of the hill and a few pieces of camera trap footage courtesy of the Shopshire Wildlife Trust showing the diversity of species found on and around the hill.
Stewart Edmunds of SWT used a camera trap to capture this amazing footage of wildlife on the Hill last year. Have a look to see some unexpected species just where you go for a walk (and you can also enjoy the beautiful views of the hill in summer: not long to wait now):
Brian Simmonds found this historic educational documentary on Facebook: Harlescott Grange Primary School children on the Hill in, I think, the early ’60s. You will recognize some of the individual trees, but the views have changed. These remarkable children will now be in their 60s or 70s. I wonder if we could identify them and invite them back to the Hill?
The trees on Pontesford Hill had been relatively neglected for decades when the Wildlife Trust took over. It will take many years to bring the woods back to optimum habitat. This is the Trust’s Management Plan:
Management Plan Pontesford Hill 2016 – 21
1. What have we got?
What is our vision?
Pontesford Hill is 26 hectares and is owned Freehold by SWT.
Pontesford Hill is primarily a wooded hillside with a number
of other features within this wooded structure. There are two Scheduled Ancient
Monuments (SAMs) within the site, Lower Camp hillfort and The Cross Dyke at the
top of the hill. The rest of the site has no designations other than woodland
that may require licences from FC for any felling works. Access is restricted,
a bridleway and ‘bulldozer track’ circle the bottom of the hill but the
bridleway is narrow and very muddy during the winter. Woodland on the site
varies from pure conifer to predominantly mixed broadleaf.
In the long term the site will have an area of acid
grassland on the summit with views across Shropshire. The hill will have a
fringe of broadleaf, native woodland managed as coppice with standards and/or
continuous cover woodland providing a source of timber and a valuable habitat
for wildlife particularly dormice already present on nearby Earl’s Hill. The
SAMs will be covered with a grassy sward easily visible and interpreted by the
History and cultural
features – For more information see the article written for the SCT in 1974
– The woodland on the east side of the Hill is very different in nature to
other wooded areas as it was planted in the mid 1800s and may have been planted
as much as a landscape feature as a resource for timber. It should be noted
that the East and west of the Hill were in two different parishes and underwent
very different development following inclosure in the early 1800s. The west
side of the Hill was still grazing land until mid 1900s. After this date
conifer plantations were planted and the abandonment of grazing allowed other
nearby trees and woodland to spread.
Conifer woodland – primarily Scots and Lodgepole
Pine but Douglas fir and larch make up a narrow strip on lower ground (1a)
Mixed woodland – Dominated by sycamore many of
which are large multi-stemmed specimens
Mixed woodland – dominated by a variety of
native broadleaf with a substantial number of large mature Douglas Fir
scattered through the canopy
Mixed broadleaf woodland – Oak, Beech and
Sycamore canopy trees with some hazel coppice understory in places.
Lower Camp hillfort SAM
Cross Dyke SAM – some bracken and bramble
Bulldozer track – vehicle width stoned track
Pennywort and Cheilosa semifaciata
Car Park – to be resurfaced and enlarged
Interpretation – undergoing development to
include a large welcome panel with map at the car park and some small post
mounted panels at the SAMs
Access –bridleway runs from the road at the car
park around the east of the hill whilst a footpath runs up and over the spine of
the hill. There are two other smaller footpaths near the Hillfort.
Parish boundary mature larch avenue
3 Optimum Condition
Restore acid grassland where identified as
suitable, create mixed native broadleaf woodland where acid grassland recreation
is unfeasible or unsuitable. Also create and maintain viewpoint(s) and protect
SAM (see 6). Retained woodland improved for a range of birds, insects and
mammals such as dormice nearby on Earl’s Hill by long rotation coppice (15-20
Mixed broadleaf woodland with an understory of
coppiced hazel and other native shrubs (long rotation coppice with standards).
Canopy a mix of species including sycamore, oak and ash. Woodland improved for
a range of birds, insects and mammals such as dormice present nearby on Earl’s
Mixed native broadleaf with the occasional
conifer. Understorey of native broadleaf shrubs. Woodland improved for a range
of birds, insects and mammals such as dormice present nearby on Earl’s Hill
Mixed native broadleaf woodland, oak and
sycamore canopy species. Understorey of native broadleaf shrubs and hazel
coppice on long rotation.
Open, short grassland sward across the majority
of the SAM with a scatter of mature native broadleaf trees. No erosion of the
Open, short grassland sward across the majority
of the SAM. No erosion of the sward.
Open, sunny ride encouraging flowering plants
and insects where possible. Care must be taken to maintain suitable conditions for
pennywort and its associated hoverfly.
Maintain dappled shade where pennywort and
hoverfly are present
Maintain suitable surface and prevent inappropriate use of the car park with
suitable barriers dividing the space
Maintain interpretation panels in suitable
condition. Interpretation should be low key and appropriate to what is
perceived by the local community and visitors as a, predominantly, natural
Access to be maintained in a suitable and safe
condition. Further and/or enhanced access is not seen as appropriate for this
site. Keep as natural as possible ie logs for benches along bulldozer track.
Veteran trees retained for as long as possible.
4 Management Prescriptions
Clear fell majority of conifer plantation,
remove brash and cordwood, and introduce grazing. Retain some ‘gateway’ trees
near the location of the current stile to mark footpath route and act as
historic features (Gone to Earth film).
replant coupes of native broadleaf trees within retained woodland.
Create an area of hazel coppice to create views
to southwest of Bromlow Callow, etc and create a diverse flower rich woodland
edge (1b). nest box scheme?
Manage in approx. 15 coupes (50mx50m) as coppice
with standards to create more light. Plant with oak, hazel and other
appropriate native trees and shrubs. Retain mature sycamore specimens where
appropriate whilst removing beech and conifer.
Arrange inspection of sycamore specimens with
severe rot in trunk. Manage as appropriate (coppice/pollard/veteran)
Gradual removal of non-native shrubs, eg
rhododendron and laurel. Further investigation and surveys required to assess
light levels and species diversity of the woodland to inform future management.
Some, light touch, management may be proposed in the short term. Survey for dormouse.
Assess/research cultural significance of woodland and its planting.?
Selective thinning of non-native trees, beech,
conifer, sycamore, to favour native broadleaf. Re-coppice hazel as appropriate
and where light is sufficient. Plant with native broadleaf where light levels
Fell and treat young trees and scrub to prevent
regrowth. Retain significant mature trees. Regular, annual cutting of bracken
bramble and grass.
Annual clearance of bramble and bracken and
The track itself should be kept clear and well
maintained. Annual cutting of encroaching vegetation with flail and/or strimmer
and volunteers. Selective felling of adjacent trees where this would allow more
light to a wider ride to benefit flowers and insects. Selective felling should
avoid opening areas of pennywort to too much light, retain dappled shade..
Regular surveys of pennywort and associated
hoverfly (Cheilosa semifaciata) (2 years?) to check population and attempt to
define ideal conditions.
Maintain surface to acceptable standard. Place
and maintain obstructions (eg large logs and tree trunks) to divide car park
and prevent unsociable behaviour such as ‘doughnuts’ in cars.
Interpretation should be low key, primarily
focussed on the car park. Maintain any signage mounted in the car park and
small ‘post panels’ on waymark and fingerposts.
Maintain access tracks, Public Rights of Way and
associated furniture such as gates and stiles at suitable standards for
required use. Enhanced access such as benches may be appropriate in limited
amounts on the ‘Bulldozer track’ and footpath to the summit; in all cases these
should be of natural materials (logs and boulders) to fit in with the location.
Lay the hedge adjacent to the bridleway as you
leave the car park to allow light into the woodland. Lay hedge over 5 years to
Fell dangerous trees next to the footpath.
Retain other mature trees where possible. Veteran tree care may retain some
trees into the medium term. Assess the potential for replanting this