Hednesford Hills Nature Reserve, Hednesford
Help stop the spread of bilberry death on the Hills and the rest of Cannock Chase by staying on the paths and keeping dogs on a short lead. The fungal pathogen that is attacking bilberry can be spread by walking through infected areas.
Currently the bilberry is growing strongly but it is being closely monitored to see the effects later in the year. If all goes well the restriction will be lifted until then would all users please keep to paths and ensure that children and dogs do not wander into plants off the paths - thank you.
The small herd of cattle that graze parts of Hednesford Hills LNR have been joined by three new arrivals.
Snowberry, a 7 month old heifer British White/Dexter cross.
Blackberry II and Elderberry II are 3 and 4 year old cows that were to be fatten for the beef market as they had failed to calve.
Hednesford Hills Common Local Nature Reserve, managed by the Cannock Chase Council Countryside Service, continues to be the leading light in heathland conservation in the West Midlands.
As the name suggests Hednesford Hills LNR has a number of steep slopes with paths being natural in nature. Some have shallow ruts and can be muddy following wet weather.
New cows arriving on Hednesford Hills LNR.
The most level gradients can be accessed from Reservoir Rd (signed for Hednesford Hills Raceway). Although parking is limited here it is possible to walk on the top of the hills and get great views across the rest of Cannock Chase.
A waymarked walk of approximately 3Km (2 1/2 miles) guides the more able around the LNR. The route starts and finishes at the Museum of Cannock Chase. The way markers are spaced at about 250m intervals and are designed to be used as seats.
For 10 years the Countryside Service has been restoring this internationally rare habitat with the method used being adopted by others in the West Midlands and Staffordshire Heathlands Partnership. Others call our approach the "Cannock Method".
As part of this approach to the management of heathland the Countryside Service applied to DEFRA to fence part of the common so that grazing could be introduced. Between April and September you may see the cows grazing if you are lucky. Historically, areas of Hednesford Hills were fenced for grazing animals. In 1819 there were 1782 sheep, 28 cows, 1 ass and 6 horses grazing the heathlands in the area of Hednesford. Today Hednesford Hills is grazed by just 7 cows so each cow has an area the size of 3 football pitches to graze.
Conservation Management Tasks for summer 2009
Install monitoring stations across the hills to assess the condition of bilberry and the spread of the fungal pathogens that are threathening to wipe out this vital componant of the Chase landscape