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Halfway to purple on the Stiperstones

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Parks, trails and nature reserves, Wildlife

July is the time when Shropshire’s Stiperstones hills turn purple, transformed by the flowering of the heather which dominates this upland heathland.

Confined mainly to the western coast of Europe, upland heathlands are a very important habitat in the UK. In Shropshire they are associated with the Shropshire Hills, and the Stiperstones is the finest example that we have with plants like cowberry and crowberry that are rarely found anywhere else.

Natural England started a campaign in April 2019 to raise £10,000 through public donations to purchase and restore a key piece of land called Windy Corner in the Shropshire Hills. The aim is to restore this parcel of land to heathland, closing the gap between the Natural England managed Stiperstones National Nature Reserve (NNR) and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Nipstone Rock.

The appeal has so far raised over £5,000 through public donations and Natural England have pledged to contribute all the summer takings from the car park at the Stiperstones towards the appeal, but we still need your help to meet our overall target of £10,000.

Purple heather on the hillside

Simon Cooter, Natural England’s Stiperstones NNR Senior Reserve Manager said:

The Stiperstones is a much loved nature reserve and the public have been incredibly generous in their donations towards this cause. However we are keen to meet our target so that we can purchase the land and start its restoration. I am really excited about the possibility of increasing our heathland, and benefiting all the species that depend upon it.

The Stiperstones NNR is famous for its wild landscape, and nationally important geology. Much of the reserve is heathland, covered with purple heather at this time of year. This heathland habitat supports important breeding birds such as snipe, red grouse and skylark and specialised creatures such as the declining bilberry bumblebee, common lizard and green tiger beetle.

Simon Cooter added:

This is a good time of year to visit the Stiperstones heathland, as on hot sunny day butterflies like the green hairstreak will be out, and the warmth loving creatures such as green tiger beetles and lizards can be seen on areas of bare soil at the edge of paths, and of course the hills will be turning purple.

Purple heather and rock formations at Shropshire’s Stiperstones hills

Natural England’s Area Manager Emma Johnson said:

The distinctive Stiperstones landscape is enjoyed by many and it’s a fantastic place for wildlife. We have big ambitions to not only improve the quality of the heathland but also extend it, recovering nature across the Shropshire Hills. We hope that with continued donations and help from volunteers we will be able to make another significant step towards that ambition.

We need your assistance to raise funds to buy and restore Windy Corner. Natural England is appealing to everyone to help support the restoration efforts by making a donation online at by Text / SMS donation: To donate £5, text PURPLE to 70970, To donate £10, text PURPLE to 70191.

Follow Natural England on Twitter, and sign up for email alerts here.

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  1. Comment by Jacky posted on

    Helped along by Highland Cattle who nibble the tops of the dead heather and eat the tall grasses in between the whinberries....