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  • Julie Muller


Updated: Jan 31, 2022

(Nearest post code - WR8 0BB)

Visited by Zak and Shep

Two sheep dogs snuffle through the autumn leaves and vegetation  along the sides of Brotheridge Green Disused Railway Line, near Malvern, Worcestershire
An autumn walk for Zak and Shep along Brotheridge Green disused railway line

The weather is absolutely glorious again today and Shep and I are 'champing at the bit' to go for our walk. It is true that, with the beautiful Malvern Hills on our doorstep, we are never short of lovely walks. However, it is always nice to visit somewhere else completely different and there are some amazing walks only a short car journey away. One of our favourites is at Brotheridge Green.

Sadly, we can't visit it during lockdown but we did walk there just before and this is what we found....

Very close to the villages of Welland and Hanley Swan in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside lies an old abandoned railway line which used to link the towns of Tewkesbury and Malvern. Closed in 1952, it is now one of many nature reserves owned and managed by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

Shep and I visited it on a bright but cold day in mid March. Naturally as it was close to the very end of winter, the trees were devoid of leaves but in spite of this, they were alive with all sorts of birds including a noisy flock of long tailed tits.

The Nature Reserve is about one mile long. Our walk started in a steep-sided cutting, which sides were carpeted in scrub. Soon it opened out onto an embankment with far reaching views to the Malvern Hills. Some of the bare tress were bedecked with mistletoe whilst others were festooned in old man’s beard.

The nature reserve is home to many types of plant some of which, like lesser knapweed, cowslip and wild basil generally prefer chalky soils and grow here because the railway line was laid on a foundation of limestone quarried from the nearby Cotswolds.

Other plants have strange intriguing names such as, woolly thistle, dogwood and dyers’ greenwood, the latter of which has been used to make yellow, cloth-colouring dye from Roman times.

Other more recognisable plants include a patch of bright yellow primroses or a carpet of purple violets at the very end of the reserve.

Such a wealth of flora support an equally rich assemblage of invertebrates including 29 species of butterfly .On warm sunny afternoons, white letter and purple hairstreak butterflies dance with grizzled skippers and marbled whites.

Sadly, today we saw no butterflies.

As Brotheridge Green is a nature reserve, we dogs need to be under very tight control so as not to disturb the wildlife particularly during the birds’ breeding season which is between 1st March and 31st July. The reserve is home to a multitude of warblers which punctuate the air with their beautiful songs. The blackcap, nicknamed the northern nightingale is particularly melodious and is resident here all of the year around whereas other warblers such as the whitethroat pay the reserve a summer visit.

As we walked a buzzard flew low over our heads almost skimming the tops of the trees and rooks cawed in the adjacent Brotheridge Green hay meadows also recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Of course, other types of wildlife are active throughout the year and Shep’s and my noses were assailed by the strong musky smell of badger.

As we explored the reserve we noticed many recently excavated holes along the length of the railway line. We were particularly interested in the ones which seemed to be new entrances to setts but other holes revealed places where the badgers had been rifling through the leaves and soil in search of big fat juicy earthworms.

It didn’t take long for us to walk to and from the end of the nature reserve. Secreted as it is in this tranquil part of the Worcestershire countryside, it is hard to believe that steam trains once trundled through it carrying both freight and passengers. Now, under the care of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, it is a delightful retreat and home to a diverse collection of inter-connected wildlife.

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