Come and experience wildlife and spectacular views of the Shropshire hills from this peaceful woodland site.
Free parking is available all year round.
Poles Coppice is located approximately 1km to the south-west of Pontesbury (some 10km south-west of Shrewsbury).
Lat/Long: 52.634805, -2.9027812
The site and car parks are open at all times.
Spectacular views of the Shropshire hills, woodland rich with spring flowers and a history of quarrying that goes back hundreds of years; Poles Coppice is a hidden gem. Follow the good path network through fields and woodlands with bird song all around and then rest awhile with a picnic in this forgotten corner of Shropshire.
Poles Coppice is located approximately 1km to the south-west of Pontesbury (some 10km south-west of Shrewsbury). It is around 30 hectares in size and is served by 2 car parks and a good footpath network. It is a peaceful retreat where you can escape the crowds and recharge. There are wonderful views from the site across the Shropshire hills and there are endless opportunities for walks. Picnic tables are dotted around the site with amazing views offering the perfect site for a flask of tea and a sandwich after a brisk walk.
The site is located at the northern end of the Stiperstones ridge and is part of a larger ancient semi-natural woodland (Lees Coppice). Within the site are areas of more species-rich, semi-improved grassland as well as open habitat and scrub within the quarries. Wetter areas also add to this interesting mix of habitats.
The ancient woodland is dominated by sessile and hybrid oak with occasional silver and downy birch and rowan. The understorey is mainly comprised of hazel, holly and rowan. The field layer is generally dominated by bramble with frequent creeping soft-grass, bracken, wood sage and honeysuckle. A walk through the site in spring reveals an incredible carpet of bluebells and stitchwort. The woodlands are also home to the hazel dormouse, a charismatic mammal that lives in the trees and makes a nest from stripped honeysuckle bark. There are also records of purple hairstreak on the site. This is a beautiful butterfly that tends to be found in the canopy of the trees where it feeds on honeydew
The woodland structure and site name indicate a history of cutting for coppice. During the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, the woodland may have been cut on a regular coppice rotation. Industries in the Pontesbury area included coal mining and leather tanning, both of which created a demand for coppice timber, particularly for oak coppice in the case of leather tanning. The last wholescale cut appears to have been undertaken around 1950.
Quarrying has taken place in Poles Coppice since the early 18th century, only ceasing in 1971. The extracted stone was used for roadstone and local buildings. There are several quarries within the site. The open scree and grassland habitat within them is an important habitat. At one time, 5000 spikes of common spotted orchids were counted in the base of the main quarry. Betony and common centaury are other wildflowers that thrive in this habitat. Round-leaved wintergreen was recorded here in 1988 but has not been observed since. The permanently moist quarry floor supports much standing water and carpets of bryophytes and lichens.
Over time, scrub and woodland have spread over the floors of the quarries. This has caused shading and has altered the ecology. A grant project that was instigated through the Stiperstones and Corndon Landscape Partnership Scheme has enabled scrub to be removed. It has also paid for wildlife surveys which have shown up some interesting records. A total of 6 species of bat have been found on the site, some of which are making use of the old sheds associated with the quarries.
Things to see and do
- Have a picnic amongst the bluebells with panoramic views of the surrounding hills.
- Take a look at the spectacular rock face within the main quarry and see if you can spot the individual layers of sediment; each layer represents a single depositional event within this body of rock known as quartzite.
- Don your walking boots, grab a map and use Poles Coppice as your starting point to explore the footpaths and bridleways around this part of Shropshire.
The site is served by two car parks. The first is located off the unclassified lane that leads from Pontesbury through Pontesbury Hill, ending at Poles Coppice at Grid reference SJ39280482.
Take a look at our Volunteer Rangers page.