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Gentleshaw Common, Staffordshire

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published January 23rd 2016
Enjoy Rare Area Of Lowland Heath
For centuries, Gentleshaw Common in Staffordshire provided a vital source of survival for the local community.

They gathered wood, bracken, heather and gorse, either as fuel or for building materials, while farmers grazed their livestock which, in turn, helped maintain the unique heathland.

Gentleshaw Common
The tranquil setting of Gentleshaw Common


All that changed more than a century ago and, over the course of the past 100 years, the Common has become a peaceful place for people to exercise, relax and enjoy the wildlife.

Now, management of Gentleshaw Common, near Rugeley, Staffordshire, has been passed to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust which has just signed a 99-year lease with Lichfield District Council to maintain this vitally important site.

Gentleshaw Common
Gentleshaw Common totals 86 hectares


Gentleshaw Common, which covers 86 hectares, is located in the southern part of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It is Staffordshire's sixth largest area of lowland heath which is rare across the world with the UK having about a fifth of the global total, making it even more endangered and scarce than rainforests.

Gentleshaw Common
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has taken on 99 year lease


The Common was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature in 1981. making it one of the country's very best wildlife and geological sites.

Management of the site has included the felling of trees and removal of bracken as they endanger the survival of rare heathland plants such as bilberry and cowberry, and prevent uncommon birds and reptiles from breeding on the heathland.

Gentleshaw Common
Information boards can be found at the entrance to mark out routes


However, a number of trees have been retained as they act as an invaluable source of food and cover for the many birds and mammals on the site.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is the leading nature conservation charity in the county, supported by more than 15,000 members.

Gentleshaw Common
Rich colours can be found even in January


A volunteer work party has already been set up – meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month – where people will carry out work such as scrub clearance to make the site more attractive.

The new lease agreement does not affect public access to Gentleshaw Common, as I discovered when I visited on a damp January day.

Gentleshaw Common
Visitors can follow one of three designated routes


Visitors can just turn up to walk their dogs, or they can take on one of the designated and marked walks which are supposed to take either 30 minutes, an hour, or 1.5 hours to complete.

Despite the muddy terrain, the Common proved a delightful place to visit with the last autumnal colours still in existence. And it will certainly warrant a return trip when the drier weather arrives in the spring.

Gentleshaw Common
School lessons were never like this!


To book a place onto the work party or for more information, contact Jeff Sim at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust on 01889 880100 or email j.sim@staffs-wildlife.org.uk
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Why? A Huge Area Of Unspoilt Lowland Heath To Enjoy
When: All year
Phone: 01543 308000
Where: Gentleshaw Common, Common Side, Rugeley, Staffordshire WS15 4NG
Cost: Free
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