Shropshire Star

Beauty spot's annual orchid count turns celebration after local nature reserve designation

An annual orchid count on a hill in Much Wenlock turned celebration after the beauty spot was designated a local nature reserve.


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Windmill Hill in Much Wenlock is one of very few sites around the UK that has wild orchids growing, and each year volunteers gather at the beauty spot for a grand count.

Duncan White from Windmill Hill Trust said the pretty plants seem to favour the limestone rich soil of the hill.

This year, 4,406 pyramidal orchids were counted by around 30 volunteers over the weekend, alongside 278 common spotted orchids.

The number is slightly down on last year's count of just over 5,000, which Duncan believes to be a result of the wet weather.

Around 30 volunteers took part in the annual orchid count on Windmill Hill

"It been another very good year, we have one of the largest collections of wild orchids for miles around - we're so lucky to have so many," said Duncan.

"Since we started a programme of maintenance, numbers have been steadily going up each year. We counted 1,227 in 2018 - so they have trebled since."

Annual orchid count on Windmill Hill, Much Wenlock
Annual orchid count on Windmill Hill

Having recently been designated a local nature reserve, the annual count turned into a celebration, with volunteers and visitors lingering to join hands around the windmill, followed by a picnic.

Duncan explained what makes the spot worth protecting.

Windmill Hill, Much Wenlock

"It's got a good history to it, if you look at the old pictures of when they used to have the Olympics on the Gaskell field, you can see hundreds of people using it as a vantage point to watch the games.

"All around you've got a fantastic view right across the town to the other side.

"As long as it's there as a nature reserve it's protected, and that means the people of Wenlock and tourists and visitors can enjoy it forever and a day."