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Things to see and do at Crickley Hill

Visitor walking at Crickley Hill with a view of the countryside and bare winter trees
Visitor walking in the countryside at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

We're working in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to encourage and improve the wildlife throughout the seasons, and there are many birds, trees and other examples of wildlife to see during a visit to the hill.

Explore the woodland

Sitting behind the café at the top of Crickley Hill is an area affectionately known as The Scrubbs. The Scrubbs have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the trees and wildlife this small, but incredibly important piece of land supports.

The large mature beech trees are an important habitat for beetles, some of which are recorded nowhere else in the country. The woodland is of national importance for its saproxylic beetles. Beech, ash, hazel and whitebeam are some of the trees that grow here, and plants such as dog's mercury and sanicle thrive where the ground is undisturbed.

Family fun in the woods

Den building, although fun, is damaging the fallen deadwood and root plate of the trees that grow in The Scrubbs, and so we keep The Scrubbs a den building-free zone. We've been taking dens down to help protect the woodland and the wildlife that live here.

Please help us to help the ancient and veteran trees in this Site of Special Scientific Interest by leaving deadwood where it lies.

Why den building damages ancient trees

When dens are built, large pieces of wood are moved and leaned against weak branches or other trees. These pieces are often loose and can easily fall. Fallen wood under a tree can be a sign that the tree is stressed. While we monitor the trees by the waymarked paths, many are left for nature to take its course.

Many flowers and plants are trampled when branches are collected for den building. Some important species have disappeared or retreated from areas where they should be thriving. Young tree stems are also easily snapped and can be torn from the ground.

Woodland around Crickley Hill, country park land near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
A woodland path at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Nick Meers

Get to know a tree

If trees could talk, can you imagine the tales they might tell? Perhaps your tree has stood tall through battle scenes, or helped new friends to build a den? Has it heard the ‘chee-chee’ cries of baby birds in spring, or felt the winter snow build walls on its outstretched branches?

Go welly wandering

When it's pouring with rain, what could be better than chucking on your wellies and waterproofs and zooming around in the puddles, soaking up all the watery fun? Going welly wandering is No. 6 of our '50 things to do before you're 11¾'.

Find some funky fungi

Mushrooms and toadstools love to grow in damp, dark and murky places best. Look for them on old or fallen trees to tick off no. 22 on the list of ‘50 things’. Please don’t touch fungi you find in the wild, unless you are with an expert and they say it’s okay.

A blue nuthatch perched on a tree branch at Quarry Bank Mill
A nuthatch on the lookout for food in the woodland at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Derek Hatton

Birdwatching on Crickley Hill

The woods are home to many different types of birds. If you're very quiet, you may be lucky enough to spot a nuthatch. Creeping up and down the beech trees, they're on the lookout for insects, beechmasts and other nuts. You're more likely to hear them before you spot them as they can be very vocal.

Listen out for the laughing call from the green woodpecker. You can spot them flitting between the oak trees in Shortwood. They love to eat ants and will use their strong beak to probe straight into an ant colony.

Kestrels are a common sight on Crickley Hill as they hover over the land on the hunt for their next meal. Mixed flocks of tits and finches are also common in the woods. Long-tailed tits wander the woods and hedgerows in small, excitable flocks.

Gloucester Wildlife Trust at Crickley Hill

We share joint ownership of the land at Crickley Hill with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. We work together as custodians of this delicate place to ensure it is protected for the enjoyment of everyone, for ever.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust manage the car parks, café and toilets. To help raise vital funds to support their conservation work, there are charges in place for parking. They also run a full programme of wildlife-themed activities and events.

Summer at Crickley Hill

Crickley Hill is one of the best examples of limestone grassland in the country. Its wide variety of wildflowers during the summer has resulted in it being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Yellow wort, carline thistle, autumn gentian and clustered bellflower all thrive here. The wildflowers in return encourage butterflies like the Chalkhill Blue.

A long-reaching view over green fields and countryside from the top of Crickley Hill

Discover Crickley Hill

Find out when Crickley Hill is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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