Woolhope Dome

Woolhope Dome/ Image: HWT

About the Woolhope Dome

The Woolhope Dome is a unique geological area made up of concentric rings of alternate limestones and shales surrounding a central bed of sandstone. The rocks formed as horizontal layers on a seabed of a warm shallow sea. At a later date they were bulged up into a dome formation which was eroded to form the hills and valleys we know today. The softer shales wore away to form the low ground, while the limestones and sandstone remained as ridges, scarps and the central high land of Haugh Wood. The limestones are highly fossiliferous, with sea shells, corals and various other sea creatures all well preserved.

The nature of the Domes topography has been instrumental in the development of its ecology. The variety of aspects, slopes, soils and the relative lack of agricultural intensification has created a unique combination of important habitats. These habitats range from semi-natural ancient woodland to grasslands rich in wildflowers, traditional orchards to unspoilt streams. The Woolhope Dome is one of the last places in the country where all these habitats can still be found together.

There are many species of interest in the Dome, ranging from traditional woodland indicators such as stinking helleborine, stinking iris, wood spurge and spurge laurel, grassland species such as wild daffodil and various orchids, butterflies and moths such as pearl bordered fritillary and drab lopper and dormice.

.View across grassland at Wessingtom Pasture

Creating a Living Landscape

Herefordshire wildlife Trust has a strong reserve holding in this area and many of the other areas of important habitat are commons or in sympathetic ownership. The Trust has a good track record of partnership working in this area and a good relationship with many of the other owners. The Living Landscape Project will be look at habitat connectivity across the Dome, improving management of woodlands, traditional orchards and grasslands, particularly in areas where the small grassland sites are being scrubbed up due to lack of grazing.

We have recently completed a Phase One Habitat Survey of the area in September 2015 looking at features including boundary features, bodies of water, fields, woodlands and grasslands. We are now collating and evaluating the data collected. 

You can find out more about past projects in this area on our Past Projects: Woolhope Dome page.

The Woolhope Dome Reserves

Fallow deer at Wessington Pasture/ Liam Bunce

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust manage several reserves on the Woolhope Dome: Wessington Pasture, Common Hill, Lea & Pagets Wood and Nupend Wood. All have access for visitors with the Wye Valley Walk passing through, or alongside the latter three sites.