Limekiln Wood lies due east of The Ercall and has some of the most complex geology to be found anywhere in the Wrekin Forest. Here, parallel seams of basalt, sandstone, mudstone, limestone and igneous rock cluster together in a formation that coalesced over 300 million years ago, within ancient sea, coastal plain and river landscapes.
The woodland soils overlying the rocks beneath Limekiln Wood consist of mineral grains ground from their deposits, providing texture and helping to define the way they behave. The sheer variety of acidic and alkaline rock found between The Ercall and Limekiln Wood is such that, within a very small space, every major soil type in Shropshire can be found here. Consequently, the range of ground flora in this unique location is very rich indeed. Spring plants indicative of ancient woodland, orchids and ferns (which thrive on the alkaline soils largely devoid of invasive bracken) are but three of the area’s star attractions, while the many mature deciduous trees here provide nesting, shelter and food for woodland birds and mammals alike, including several bat species.
Limekiln Wood once formed part the medieval deer park of Wellington Hay but the kilns from which it takes its name were already present by at least 1240. However, the industrial forces that shaped the woodlands we see today did not really make their presence felt until the late 1600s, during the industrialisation of Britain. Carboniferous Limestone was a key ingredient in the production of iron and the remains of the limekilns from which the wood presumably takes its name can be found in its northeast corner at Steeraway (although great care should be taken when approaching these deep shafts).
Old quarries and former mine workings litter the forest floor in Limekiln Wood, especially on its eastern border with Short Wood, where even the public footpath bisecting the area is the former track of a primitive railway used to carry mineral and coal traffic to local foundries. It is among the earliest examples in the British Isles. By the beginning of the Twentieth Century, these commercial enterprises had all but disappeared and natural regeneration has long since softened their hard edges. Even so, the long history of disturbance in the Wrekin Forest means that it is classified as ‘semi-natural’ ancient woodland, signifying that while its soils have long been wooded, the same cannot be said of the tree and shrub cover growing on them.
Sweet Woodruff, Ramsons, Wood Speedwell, Common Spotted-orchid, Common Twayblade, Hart’s Tongue Fern, Common Pipistrelle Bat, Marsh Tit