In this section you will find a series of introductory guides to some of the most important groups of plants, animals and insects to be found in the Wrekin Forest, along with some of the best places to see them.
A thousand years ago, the woodlands around The Wrekin formed part of a vast medieval royal hunting forest covering most of east Shropshire. Today, deer are still very much part of the local landscape providing a living connection to our distant past.
The woodlands, hedgerows and stream valleys of the Wrekin Forest are home to a number of native bats. From the top of the hill to the foot of the Ercall, and the reservoirs of the Forest Glen, twilight could easily bring a crepuscular encounter with any of them.
The varied geology of the Wrekin Forest has long made the area a target for industrial activity. Nowadays, its old quarries and brownfields provide vital habitat for many plants, animals and insects not least a trio of very characterful snakes and lizards.
Very few of the plants and animals that call the Wrekin Forest home could claim a link to the time when the rocks shaping this famous landscape were formed. With a lineage stretching back 300 million years, however, ferns are one of the few that can.
Famed as much for their scarcity as their beauty, an encounter with wild orchids is much more likely than you might think. The Wrekin Forest is home to a number of species, not all of which conform to the vision of loveliness with which they are often associated.
Every spring, the wooded slopes of The Wrekin play host to a trio of migrant birds right on the eastern edge of their UK range. For each of these declining species, the area is a vital regional stronghold where they are surprisingly easy to see and hear.
Despite having a history stretching beyond the last millennia much of the Wrekin woodland we see today dates from the 1600s. Within the forest, however, there are a group of residents with a longer lineage: the notable order of ancient and veteran trees!
The woodlands and old brownfield quarries of the Ercall Local Nature Reserve support at least 26 butterfly species and a much larger number of moths. Thankfully, many are day-flying insects with distinctive markings to help identify them.
Limekiln Wood is home to the most diverse array of soils found anywhere in Shropshire. Its complex geology provides the perfect growing conditions for an equally wide-ranging array of over 150 wildflower species, may of which are best viewed in spring.
The Wrekin Forest is one of only a few Shropshire sites where all three native species of British woodpecker can be seen. These woodland specialists each have very different requirements and you’ll need to explore the area beyond the hill itself to glimpse them all.