Mary Knoll Valley

Overview
A deep valley within the Mortimer Forest surrounded by areas of mature deciduous woodland, mature conifer plantations and some new growth where previous felling has taken place. Below the car park there is an area of very open woodland with birch, beech and some old oaks, which is worth exploring. The valley has Silver-washed Fritillary and Wood White butterflies in season and the woodland is good for summer migrants.

Directions, parking, access times and other facilities
Map reference: SO 497717
Sat Nav/Post Code: SY8 4ED

Vehicular access: There is a Car Park at Black Pool (SO 497 717), accessed from the B4361. It is signed. A lay-by a bit further NE could be used if choosing the alternative level route.

Access by foot: Take the unsigned small path from the boulders at the NE of the car park down into the open woodland and follow it as it curves leftwards, climbing with oak wood on the right. At a wide track turn right and descend to Mary Knoll Valley. Turn left and take the forest road on the SW side of the valley, or follow a Climbing Jack waymark to cross the stream on a muddy path and ascend to a cottage. Then follow a more attractive bridleway upstream on that side. After 700m a track allows you to cross back to the forest road. A map is advisable if exploring further. Restrictions may be in place at times due to timber operations. An alternative level route to the valley involves walking NE along the B4361, no pavement, to access the start of the forest road.

Other facilities: The car park has picnic benches and waymarked trails. Ludlow is only a couple of miles away and has all facilities.

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

What to see:
Common and less common woodland birds, with the possibility of Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher and Wood Warbler. The open woodland near the car park and the oak wood further on might yield a sighting of these species in the breeding season.
Resident All the common resident woodland birds. Marsh and Willow Tit; Buzzard; Goshawk (in the wider area); Raven; Sparrowhawk; Woodcock; Tawny Owl; Bullfinch; Lesser Redpoll; Siskin; occasionally Common Crossbill (depending on cone crop). On odd occasions the small pool may host Grey Heron and Mallard.
Winter Lesser Redpoll and Siskin form flocks, often with Goldfinch, and are easier to see. Occasionally Brambling appear. Mixed tit flocks wander the area, with Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker joining them. The Woodcock population may increase.
Summer In the breeding season, Redstart; Pied Flycatcher; Wood Warbler; occasionally Spotted Flycatcher; Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Willow Warbler; Chiffchaff; Whitethroat; Tree Pipit; Stock Dove; and sometimes Cuckoo.
Spring/autumn Additional Siskin/Redpoll/Goldfinch flocks may be passing through.
Resources:
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.

A map of the trails can be found at https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/8-mortimer.pdf/$file/8-mortimer.pdf

Nearby sites:
High Vinnalls. It is possible to combine the two sites either by taking the Climbing Jack trail (nine miles with much ascent and descent) or continuing to walk along the forest road to the High Vinnalls car park.