Bird life from Folly View

I thought you might like to know how the local bird life is getting on in Craven Arms.

We have lots of busy sparrows. The sparrows who reside in the swift box are still there and are presently feeding youngsters. The swift box has become two story as there is a nest top of it as well as inside.

We have a sparrow who is nesting in a robin box by our front Windows, or should that be between. Mr Sparrow bangs against the window constantly and occasionally brings back a feather or leaf for Mrs Sparrow!  We think they are now on their second brood. We had less window banging over the last two weeks but it has started again recently. The window is a mess, there is no point cleaning it until they have finished nesting.

When I was walking the dogs recently two sparrows were having a dust up. There were no other birds around, as we got nearer they flew into a  nearby shrub, still arguing, at which point ten other sparrows arrived and joined in. Our sparrows usually argue in the large ever green at the front of the house.

I have sat outside watching the aeriel display put on by swallows, housemartins and swifts. One of our friends found a swift on the ground and helped it by putting it up high.

I have been watching housemartins collecting mud on the Onny River along with the swallows  I have not seen where they are nesting but I haven’t been looking.

I saw the egret on Halford Meadows a couple of weeks ago. I have not seen it with a mate but it has been around for a couple of years. The grey wagtails and dippers are busy on the Onny, I have not seen the Kingfisher recently but that does not mean they are not there.

I heard a skylark on Onny Meadows earlier this week. I have not seen one down there for a long time. I don’t think it was nesting but it was lovely to hear it.

There will be more on Bird life in Craven Arms in the coming weeks.

Things to Do in Craven Arms

I am sure there are people who think there is nothing to do in Craven Arms but there are probably more Things to Do in Craven Arms than you would think.

Stokesay Castle Gatehouse

Stokesay Castle Gatehouse

Stokesay Castle is open daily until the end of September at a cost of £8.30 per adult. It is a fortified hall that is well worth a visit. There are new tearooms and you can also walk round Stokesay Church and Churchyard and see Old Bill the First World War Memorial.

Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre has a tearoom with artworks hanging on the walls, an exhibition which tells you about the Mammoth found near Shrewsbury and about Iron Age Hill forts. The exhibition has a £5 entrance fee but you can access the rest of the Centre without paying. It is open from 10am until 5pm everyday.

The Onny Meadows at the back of the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre is free to explore at any time. There is lots of play equipment for children to be adventurous on. The ponds and river Onny are great for pond dipping. There is a small butterfly garden by the picnic benches, see what you can spot. Or simply have a relaxing walk via the benches.

The Land of Lost Content is a museum of Popular British Culture has tons to see. There are exhibits about the Wars, Sweets, The Postal Service and lots, lots more. It is well worth the £7.50 entrance fee per adult.

For those who like to walk there is lots to aim for. There is an Iron Age Hill Fort to the south east called Norton Camp. To the north east is Flounders Folly, you can drive most of the way if you don’t want a long muddy walk. There are lots of other walks, some along the River Onny or Shropshire Way or those you could explore for your self.

Craven Arms is not a Shopping Centre but Tuffins Supermarket is well worth a visit. You are bound to find something interesting to eat, drink or use.

Well I think there is much more here to do than you thought. So with all these Things to Do in Craven Arms, Craven Arms here you come.

The Land of Lost Content Museum

The Land of Lost Content

The Shropshire Way 80k

On Saturday 17th March the first Shropshire Way 80k walk will be starting from the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms.

The circular walk will take you through some of the most stunning countryside in South Shropshire.

I love the views from Hopesay Hill towards the Burrow and the views from Bury Ditches.

The aim is to complete the 80k walk in 24hours. This brand new long distance walk will take you along the Shropshire Way main route and some of it’s shorter walks.

The check points will provide the opportunity to sample local produce and when you finish back at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre there will be a breakfast provided for participants.

The Walk will be raising funds for Grow Cook Learn who run the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre and Onny Meadows.

There is a £40 entrance fee and there are still places available. Contact the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre on 01588 676060 to book your place.

It would be great to see this Walking Festival become an annual event supported by the whole


I was asked about Medlars after a recent blog where I had talked about them in one of the hedges at the Onny Meadows.

Medlar (Mespilus germanica) are thought to have been cultivated for over 3000 years but they certainly have since Roman times.

The Medlar is a small tree or shrub which is short lived and originates from Southwest Asia.

There was thought to be only one species until 1990 when another new species was found in North America.

The tree grows to about eight metres high.
It has greyish brown bark which has deep vertical cracks.
The leaves are dark green,with a hairy underside, which turn red in Autumn.
The flowers are white with five oval petals. Medlars are self pollinating with the help of bees.
The fruit is reddish brown about 2-3cms across with wide spreading sepals around what looks like a hollow central pit.

Medlar Illustration

Medlar Illustration


The botanical illustration above is from the original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany, and permission was granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber.

The Medlar fruit can only be eaten after it has been bletted.

Bletting is the softening of fruit beyond ripening. Bletting brings about an increase of sugars and a decrease in acids and tannins.

So when to our eyes they look ready to eat when other fruits are they are not.

They are then left for a few more weeks until they look rotten and brown, then they are ready this will be in Winter.

Medlars are ready to eat when they can be spooned out.

I have to say they do not appeal to me but they apparently taste of apple sauce.

Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

Entrance to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Secret Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms was opened in 2002 and run by the County Council.

It was set up to encourage tourism to the area.

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre changed its name in more recent times and is now run by a charitable organisation, Grow Cook Learn.

There is an interactive exhibition which has a replica mammoth skeleton on display. Much of the exhibition refers to the Iron Age.

At the entrance is a small furry mammoth, called Tusker, to welcome children to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre.

The cafe provides lunches using local produce. On Sundays there is a roast dinner, booking recommended. You may just want to pop in for coffee and cake.

There are benches outside where in good weather you can sit and enjoy your food and drink.

There is a shop which has maps and walking books about the local area or where you can pick up a special gift.

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre runs courses for adults and children. During the school holidays it is always worth checking if there is something going on that might interest you or your children.

Entrance to the Discovery Centre is free but there is a charge for the Exhibition. Car parking is free or you can give a small donation.

Don’t forget there are the 35 acres of the Onny Meadows to explore as well.

The Onny Meadows



In a few of my blogs I have talked about the Onny Meadows here in Craven Arms. I often walk there as I have two border terriers called Hettie and Dillie.

The Onny Meadows is thirty five acres of meadows and woodland, half a mile from Folly View Let. At the entrance to the meadows is The Discovery Centre, where you are able to get food and drink.

The woodland was planted when the Discovery Centre was built in Two Thousand, there are alders, hazel, ash, oaks, and poplars among others. There is an area planted with willows and a willow arch, now behind a fence.

There are two orchards which have apples and pears. One of these orchards has hedges that are planted with medlars and damsons.

The river Onny runs through the site and there are several ponds. Some of them are the remnants of former mill ponds.

Onny River

Onny River

There is a hard path around a small part of the site but this is presently being extended. This will make access for wheel chairs, pushchairs and people who have problems on uneven surfaces a lot better.

Part of the hard path is a circular Cycle Path, great for children to learn cycling skills in a safe environment.

There is a children’s play area near the Discovery Centre and there are still some other play _ around the Meadows. The logs are to be climbed over which you can see from the Sun Dial, it is accurate.

There are wonderful wild flowers and beautiful grasses. Damselflies, dragon flies, may flies are beautiful to observe flying over the ponds in Spring and Summer.

There are birds to be observed including the Red Kites. I have seen otters and stoats on the meadows, squirrels can be seen in the trees and I can often smell that a fox has been around.

The Onny Meadows are the starting point of several circular walks and the Shropshire Way passes through.

Onny Meadows Signpost

Onny Meadows Signpost

It is lovely to walk round, not sure about the barbed wire.

Sightings on the Onny Meadows

Female Goosander

Female Goosander

While walking Hettie (Border Terrier) we saw a Goosander on the River Onny. I have been informed it was a female as it had a brown head and grey body, the males have almost white bodies.

I saw a Goosander on the Onny Meadows last Winter as well but did not see a male one then either.

I have also been told that the dabducks (Little Grebe) have returned and are on the ponds at the Onny Meadows. I heard them last Spring but didn’t get a confirmed sighting, they have a very distinctive ‘Cackle’.

Little Grebe

Little Grebe


The image of the Goosander is by N P Holmes and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The image of the Little Grebe is by Jason Thompson and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Dull Days with Hints of Colour

Red Stems in Winter

Red Stems in Winter

There have been lots of dull days with the odd bright day to give us hope that Spring is on its way.

Walking on the Onny Meadows I was looking for fresh green shoots that hint at Spring but found myself looking at zings of colour that are there if you look more closely and stop thinking it all looks dull.

Bark Textures

Bark Textures

The clumps of grasses that have died of over winter have creams and yellows and although not hinting at Spring their colours add to contrasts and vibrancy when we do get some sunshine.

There are wonderful textures to find in the bark of different trees. Even on the same tree you find a multitude of different textures. The colours can also be stunning and some trees develop a green which comes from a lichen at this time of year.

The Hazel catkins have a fiery yellowy green, if you look very closely their tiny reddy brown flowers are putting in their appearance.

Hazel Catkins

Hazel Catkins


Alder Cones and Catkins

Alder Cones and Catkins


The Alders which you will find by the river, also have catkins. They are mauve in colour and contrast well with their nut brown cones.

I love brown, it is such a warm colour, the Burdock makes a stunning argument for it being a lovely colour. It is a colour I love to wear as it is so versatile as nature shows us.


The Witchhazel is beautiful, looks stunning on dull days with its creamy yellow flowers. I can see it from my living room window but it is much better to get outside and breath in its wonderful fragrance.

Witchhazel at Folly View Let

Witchhazel at Folly View Let

There are a few more pictures to look at below, most were taken on the Onny Meadows when I was walking Hettie (Border Terrier).




Teazles in the Onny Meadows

Teazles in the Onny Meadows