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Rambles through Reserves: Brilley Green Dingle

Posted: Friday 5th May 2017 by FrancesWeeks

An occasional blog exploring Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s 55 nature reserves

Brilley Green Dingle, 4th May 2017

First, find your nature reserve. This one is a little off the beaten track*…

Travelling west on the A438, after passing through the village of Winforton, take the right-hand turn signposted to Brilley and Michaelchurch-on-Arrow. Follow this road, over a cross road and a little further on uphill and you will spot a footpath sign on the left-hand side of the road. There is room for one car to stop here. Follow the footpath sign between the hedges and you will see the Reserve sign on the gate at the end. Alternatively, drive a little further and take a left turn which will take you to the ‘main’ entrance where there is space for a couple of cars. (The map in the Trust’s Reserves Guide is pretty good.)

And rest assured, it’s worth the effort. Narrow paths wind around and up and down the wooded slope, the stream – Millhalf Brook – rushes along below. There is a magical, fairy-tale feel with moss covered stumps, fern filled fissures and rickety steps. This morning, despite an overcast sky, the woodland floor was awash with colour from the bright, sharp green of the newly-unfurled ferns while bluebells, campion, early purple orchids and archangel added a flick of a rainbow. On my visit, the soundtrack was waves of birdsong layered over the flow of the brook but I’m told that after rain there are some “body shaking bass sounds… like rural drum and bass.” I’ll clearly have to visit again!

Walking through the reserve the mood shifted between enchanting and eerie as the sun filtered through then receded. It is certainly a place to fire the imagination – a wonderful place to bring children (though perhaps the steep slopes combined with narrow paths rule out the smallest) – or to spend a quiet afternoon exploring alone. Looking up from the bottom of the valley, the treescape seems to stretch for miles above while the understory is a tangle of holly and hazel.

But to cut through the romance with some hard facts. While the board walk is currently charmingly shabby, it will soon need replacing – the way through the reserve would be impassable without it. Similarly, the boards which cut steps into the slopes are doing their best but will cease to be effective before too long and the bridge will soon be due for repairs as well. Though the overgrown feel is part of the woodland’s magic, I’m reliably informed by our reserve staff that some further selective thinning and coppicing would result in an improved wildlife habitat without altering the wonderful atmosphere.

Cue entirely shameless plug: our Reserves Appeal is raising funds for just such jobs as we will be unable to undertake any of this work without additional funds. If this type of maintenance is not completed, the reserve will slowly become less accessible for visitors and a poorer habitat for wildlife. Help us to keep Brilley Green Dingle special by donating today at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HerefordshireNatureReserves

*Okay, most of our Reserves are in rather secluded spots.

Some further information…

Terrain. Steep, narrow and damp in places. (We’ve had low rainfall recently but I imagine it’s fairly muddy in winter.)

Exploring further. The paths around the reserve link to footpaths through the neighbouring Whiney Court Estate (with glades full of bluebells and drifts of their perfume on my visit) so you could do a longer circular walk. (Take OS Map Explorer 201)

Wildlife. Were I a more adept birder I should no doubt have picked wood warbler, chiff chaff, tree pipit and many others from the attending choir of birds. A nest box scheme for the rare pied flycatcher is run at the wood and dippers frequent the brook. Otters are known to use the stream and we think there are possibly still native white clawed crayfish here too. And it’s the place to be for fans of ferns, mosses and liverworts.

Charcoal making. Though not on the go at the moment, charcoal is made when coppicing is taking place in the wood (it is the unwanted coppiced wood which is fed into the kiln) and you’ll see the kiln at the eastern entrance of the reserve. Charcoal made at the reserve is available from Turnham Green Wood (www.turnham-green-wood.co.uk)

Volunteering
As on nearly all our reserves, our volunteer work parties visit Brilley Green Dingle to carry out tasks. In recent years they have made repairs to the board walk, built and otter holt and assisted with coppicing. For more information about volunteering with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust go to: www.herefordshirewt.org/volunteer


 

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