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NEWSLETTER, February 2017

Wednesday February 8th, 2017 | Stephanie

Mining heritage revealed, researched and repaired

Living locally, we are used to seeing remains of the past mining industry dotted around.  It’s amazing to think that, at its height in the 1800’s, the lead mines in this area were some of the most productive in Europe. Our mining heritage has shaped the landscape around us.  Through the Scheme we have been able to support the repair of some of the buildings at Snailbeach Lead Mine.  With help, volunteers have been investigating the archaeology at lesser known mine sites such as at Cothercott, and research is helping us to better understand our mining heritage and tell the story.  Currently, the 1784 engine house on what was Pontesford Colliery is being repaired.  There is no public access to the site but once the building is unwrapped, we’ll be organising some guided visits for those interested in learning more about this significant monument.


Call of the Curlew 
Before Christmas, 30 people gathered at Kerry Vale Vineyard near Churchstoke to hear about the Curlew Country Project and its plans for the future.  The project gained national recognition in 2016 with its ground breaking work to save the local curlew population.  For two years, field ornithologist, Tony Cross, has monitored local curlew nests. Sadly, no chicks have survived.  This season we are trialing different methods to help these beautiful birds breed successfully.  This month, Tony presented our nest monitoring findings to a ‘Call of the Curlew’ Symposium, held at Slimbridge.  Project Manager, Amanda Perkins, also attended the conference and sat on the ‘Curlew Solution panel’ to answer delegate questions.  A summary of the symposium is being prepared and will be available on our website shortly.


Vanishing Buildings by Mary Napper-White

“When I first came to live in this area, nearly ten years ago, I started to explore the fascinating landscape on foot. I became increasingly intrigued by the numerous remains of houses and other buildings one encounters in the countryside.  They are reminders of past human activity and of the severe depopulation of rural areas that has taken place over the past 100 years or so.  Walkers like me enjoy a network of footpaths which are there only because previous generations needed them to get to work, to school, to market, to church, to move livestock, to deliver fuel, post, bread…”

This was the starting point for Mary’s Vanishing Buildings Project.  With supported from a Down to Earth community grant, Mary was able to lead a series of walks and workshops to explore some of the old ruined buildings around Churchstoke. This has culminated in the Vanishing Buildings Exhibition which is currently at Bishop’s Castle Town Hall.  The exhibition of paintings and drawings by Mary Napper-White closes on 18th February. 

The following day, Sunday 19th February, County Archaeologist, Hugh Hannaford, is giving an illustrated talk at 2.30pm at Bishop’s Castle Town Hall.  Hugh will be talking about the hillforts, motte and bailey castles, and settlements which have been  explored by our community archaeology volunteers.  Tickets are £5 from the Town Hall.  Follow the link for details http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/event/land-lands-talk-hugh-hannaford-bishops-castle/.


Poles Coppice & Roman Gravels scrub up

Poles Coppice is a large area of important woodland cover within the Scheme area.  This, like many woodlands, has suffered declines in ecological diversity over time due to a lack of management.  This is largely down to a change in economic activity and rural livelihoods which has seen a move from trades such as charcoal burning, hazel hurdles, pit props and other coppice crafts.  Through our Rescuing Rocks Project we have opened up glades and rides for the benefit of butterflies, bats and dormice.  We have also improved habitats in the former quarry areas. Working with the existing topography, depressions and damp hollows in the quarry floor have been transformed  into a variety of ponds, wet flushes and areas of standing open water.  As these are allowed to naturally recolonise with wetland and woodland plants, they will be the ideal habitat for dragonflies, damsel flies , butterflies and other invertebrates rarely found in woodlands.

The Forestry Commission have felled the trees at Roman Gravels and the ‘brash’ and branches have now been removed. This has created open heath habitat, ideal for invertebrates, such as the Grayling butterfly and other wildlife.  Roman Gravels is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as it’s one of the earliest recorded mining sites in the county.  Evidence suggest the Romans mined lead and silver here, hence the name.  The removal of the trees has also made the site accessible for future archaeological surveys. We hope that the site can now be fenced, which will allow it to be grazed, thereby preserving it as ‘open’ ground.


Taking charge of local verges
Road verges are some of our most important grassland habitats in the Scheme area. Come late spring, take a closer look at the verges near you and you may be surprised to see the variety of wildflowers, which in turn attract a range of pollinator insects. This diversity is down to the unimproved nature of these spaces and infrequent mowing.  As part of their Parish Plan, Myndtown Combined Parish Council are looking at ways to improve the diversity of habitat along their roadside verges.  They have mapped flowers along 150 kilometres of their roadside verges and identified locations with greater numbers and those where numbers are lower than expected. With community support and advice from our Verges Project, the Parish Council are aiming to develop a sustainable roadside verge maintenance programme to improve and enhance their verge habitat.


Date for your diary… Saturday 24th June, HAY MEADOW FESTIVAL opposite the Bog Visitor Centre, Pennerley http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/event/hay-merry-meadow-festival-bog/


Wildlife on your doorstep
Join the Community Wildlife Groups for their annual evenings of presentations. They include a review of last year’s wildlife surveys, including curlew monitoring and the wildflower meadows and verges project.  The events are free and everyone is welcome.  It’s a great opportunity to find out about your local wildlife and the valuable work of the Groups.

• Tuesday 7th March at Minsterley Parish Hall, 7.30pm, for the Rea Valley Community Wildlife Group

• Wednesday 8th March at Hyssington Village Hall, 7.30pm, for the Camlad Valley Community Wildlife Group

• Tuesday 21st March at Horse & Jockey, Churchstoke 7.30pm, for the Rea Valley Bird Group

 Wednesday 22nd March at the Stiperstones Inn, 7.30pm, for the Camlad Valley Bird Group

If you can’t make these events but would like to get involved please contact Joe Penfold on 01938 561741, or email joe.penfold@shropshire.gov.uk.


Understanding the care and conservation of pre 1919 buildings
This is a re-run of the successful 6-day certificated course which we organised last year.  It’s aimed at crafts people, contractors, professionals’ and building owners who want to learn about the practicalities of working on old buildings. The tutors are Colin Richards from C.J.R.Heritage and John Munro from the Traditional Building Skills Co. The course is accredited by CSkills and City and Guilds and endorsed by the National Heritage Training Group.  The cost is £150 for residents/businesses with connections to, or living in, the Scheme area.  This is subsidised by HLF funding.  Otherwise the fee is £985.  The course is based at Bishop’s Castle Community College with visits to heritage building sites for hands on practical sessions.  The dates are as follows:

  • Fri 7th & Sat 8th April 2017
  • Fri 5th & Sat 6th May2017
  • Fri 2nd & Sat 3rd June 201


For other traditional skills courses see http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/events/category/courses/

Coming up…

  • 18th & 19th February, HEDGE LAYING FOR BEGINNERS, Churchstoke with tutor Allan Housman.
  • 1st April, ADVANCED SCYTHING & PEENING COURSE, with tutor Andrea Gilpin. Venue tbc


Trainee ‘tastic

Looking back over his 12-month placement, trainee Adam Stallard concluded he’d so much to put on his CV it was difficult to fit it all in!  The hands-on practical land management tasks, working with volunteers and assisting members of the public has given Adam a great range of experiences and help to build his confidence.  Combined with the raft of qualifications and certificates he’s gained, including the City & Guilds Level 2 Work Based Diploma in Environmental Conservation, Adam is well on his way to a career of his choice.  As we say goodbye and good luck to Adam, we welcome two new trainees.  Abigail Knight, from Leominster, and Sarah Fortune, from Bridgnorth, will start their 12-month placements at the end of this month.  Abigail will follow in Adam’s footsteps, dividing her time between Natural England on the Stiperstones NNR, National Trust at Carding Mill Valley and JP Brayford Access and Habitat Management.  Sarah will be based at Severn Valley Country Park, working with Shropshire Council’s Outdoor Partnership Team.


Iron Age Origins
One of the things that make the Scheme area special is an unusually high concentration of ancient monuments, such as those that appeared during the Iron Age.  This suggests a historic struggle for power, status and territory. These mysterious and enigmatic earthworks are more prevalent than you might think, particularly when you look closely at a map of the local hills.  ‘Impressions of the Past’ is a community arts project which offers local people a unique opportunity to discover, explore and celebrate our Iron Age heritage. Ceramicist, Ruth Gibson, and poet, Jean Atkin, are working with local schools, scouts and brownies to  provide engaging and thought-provoking interpretation and educational activities. For the wider community, a clay and poetry workshop is taking place in Pontesbury next Saturday 25th February. To find out more visit Impressions of the Past’ on Facebook, and to book a place on the above event email us at info@stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk.

For those who prefer ‘hands-on’ of a different kind, our ‘Helping Hillforts & Earthwork Castles’ project continues over the winter, offering local people the chance to get involved in practical conservation at a number of historic sites, including the motte and bailey castle at Pulverbatch and Callow Hillfort near Minsterley.


In 2017 three artists will open your eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding our fragile Shropshire Hills landscape.  There will be opportunities to explore and appreciate the history, the stories and the future of this beautiful rugged upland area and to understand what part we humans can play in caring for it.

Come outside in the Shropshire Hills with land artist Tony Plant, composer and choir leader Mary Keith and theatre makers Stan’s Café….. be prepared to be entertained, educated and amazed!  More details will be available soon – keep your eyes and ears open.


Follow the link to view forthcoming events and activities, including Tuesday Task Team conservation days http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/events/category/events/

To be added to our newsletter mailing list, please contact us at 01938 561741 or email info@stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk.  You can also find us on Facebook @StiperstonesandCorndon


One response to “NEWSLETTER, February 2017”

  1. […] Please follow the link below to read the latest news from the Stiperstones & Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme:  http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/2017/02/newsletter-february-2017/ […]