High Vinnals

High Vinnalls is just a small part of a large and varied forest. The ascent is mostly through coniferous forest but there is an interesting area of more open regrowth/birch scrub to the east of the top and below that an area of open common which is a mass of bluebells in May. There are wonderful views from the top itself.

Directions, parking, access times and other facilities
Map reference: SO 474 731
Sat Nav/Post Code: SY8 2HF

Vehicular access: There is a large car park at SO 474 731 off the minor road linking Ludlow with Wigmore. It is on the left hand side about three miles SW of Ludlow, and is signed.

Access by foot: From the car park there is a marked trail, the Vinnalls Loop, which takes in the summit. The full route is over 3 miles, can be very muddy in places, and involves a certain amount of up and down. A shorter option is to take the trail in a clockwise direction as far as the top less than a mile away (with 130m of ascent) and return the same way. For this, ignore the right turn for the Vinnalls Loop/Easy Access Trail. Instead just before the forest road meets a T-junction (SO 475 727) follow the marked Vinnalls Loop straight ahead. From the summit you can head east for about 500m or so to explore the scrubby area of regrowth and the open common. Many variations of route are possible using forest roads and other paths as there is open access to most of this part of the Mortimer Forest. However restrictions may be in place at times due to timber operations. A map is advisable.

Other facilities: The car park has a few picnic benches and there are a number of marked trails. Ludlow is only a few miles away with all facilities.

Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 137 and Explorer Sheet 203
OS Map View (1:25,000)

What to see:
Common and less common birds of coniferous and mixed woodland, scrub, forest clearings and open common. It can be a fruitful place to look for Common Crossbill, particularly in winter. The summit provides a good viewpoint to scan for Goshawk in early spring when they may be displaying.
Resident All the common resident woodland birds. Of particular interest may be Marsh and Willow Tit; Woodcock; Siskin; Bullfinch; Buzzard; Jay; Raven; Goshawk (within the wider area); and Common Crossbill (depending on cone crop). Occasional birds include Green Woodpecker and Kestrel.
Winter Large flocks of Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Goldfinches may be seen. Common Crossbill is more likely to be spotted than in the summer. Mixed tit flocks, with high numbers of coal tit and goldcrest, and with perhaps Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker joining in, rove the forest. A Great Grey Shrike was seen for a few years in late winter/early spring and late autumn/early winter, although there have been no sightings since 2013.
Summer In the breeding season additional birds include Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Whitethroat; Tree Pipit; Cuckoo; Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Yellowhammer; Linnet; and Skylark. A dusk walk along the forest roads may give a glimpse of a roding Woodcock. The possibility of Spotted Flycatcher – perhaps near the car park.
Spring/autumn In addition other birds may turn up on passage. Meadow Pipit flocks sometimes stop off on the common area, as do Stonechat and, very occasionally, Wheatear. Large flocks of Swallow and House Martin can gather to feed and roost.
A guide to all the trails in Mortimer Forest can be found at https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/8-mortimer.pdf/$file/8-mortimer.pdf. A booklet “The Life & Times of Mortimer Forest in a nutshell” was produced by West Midlands Butterfly Conservation in 2015 and may still be available. It has sections on geology, botany, history, butterflies and moths, mammals and birds: https://butterfly-conservation.org/news-and-blog/new-west-midlands-guidebook-mortimer-forest-in-a-nutshell.
Nearby sites:
Other areas of the forest may be better for seeing Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler. The oak woodland near Black Pool Car Park (SO 497717 off the B4361) is a good place to start. High Vinnalls can be accessed from this car park too.