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Woodland Trust

20170430_132254 Woodhouse Hill new woodland
20170430_132052 Snidley Moor from Woodhouse Hill new woodland

The Woodland Trust is the UK's largest woodland conservation charity. It owns more than 1000 sites covering over 26,000 hectares, all over the UK and has over 500,000 members and supporters. The Trust protects and campaigns on behalf of this country's woods, plant trees, and restores ancient woodland for the benefit of wildlife and people. The charity wants to see a UK rich in woods and trees, enjoyed and valued by everyone.

Within the area of the Sandstone Ridge, the Woodland Trust manages over 60 hectares of broadleaved woodland at four sites: Frodsham Hill, Woodhouse Hill, Snidley Moor and Wheeldon Copse. Some areas of woodland at Woodhouse Hill and Frodsham Hill are recorded as Ancient Woodland, although due to human intervention in previous centuries including clearance of trees and grazing these are more correctly classed as "Semi-Natural Ancient Woodland" with woodland cover having existed on the site since at least 1600.

Frodsham Hill overlooks the town of Frodsham at the northern end of the Ridge. The wood is a popular destination for local people and visitors. From the top of the hill by the war memorial behind the Forest Hills hotel there are panoramic views across the River Mersey. Whilst the hill is now covered with trees, photographic records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries show that for a period of years Frodsham Hill had a considerably more open aspect with far less tree cover than today.
These woods provide numerous opportunities for informal recreation with over 3km of public and permissive footpaths including a section of the "Sandstone Trail" that passes through all the woods. There are a number of bluffs used by climbers, and several viewpoints offering vistas as far as the Welsh borders across to the western Pennines and closer by the Mersey estuary and city of Liverpool. The woods are important habitats for a wide variety of birds and mammals and part of the site is classed as a Local Wildlife Site.

Woodhouse Hill has been managed by the Trust since 1991. On the top of the hill are the remnants of the ramparts from an Iron Age hill fort and the site is designated an Ancient Monument. The Trust acquired an area of land adjacent to the hill in 2001 and this area was planted with a mix of native broadleaved trees. It is now developing into a young woodland whilst retaining areas of open ground which include several more recent man-made "Iron Age houses" and a mock hill fort rampart for visitors to enjoy.

Snidley Moor as the name suggests was historically an area of open heathland with some trees. It was acquired by the Trust in 1987 and has been left to develop through natural regeneration into woodland, predominately birch with some oak and rowan. It still retains areas of open ground with bracken and small remnant patches of bilberry and heather.

Wheeldon Copse is a small new woodland created in 2003 by the Woodland Trust on land that was previously rough grazing pasture for sheep and pigs. It was planted with over 15,000 native broadleaf trees and has a circular path around the outside of the site. Areas of open ground were retained and seeded with wildflowers providing a blaze of colour in the summer months. The woodland serves to extend and buffer an existing adjoining area of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland known as Alvanley Cliff.