ELLEN CLIFF WOOD (CZ/ES01)

Click here to see preliminary management plan for the site

Click here to see species lists for this site

 

General Information

Grid Reference

SK28909825

Ownership

About half of site owned by Corus Engineering Steels. The rest belongs to other private ownership.

Size

4.11 hectares (1,352m perimeter)

Designation(s)

Green Belt.

Access

Public access through site is from rights of way Nos. 8 and 10. Number 10 is the start of the Stocksbridge Steel Valley Walk at its eastern end.

Classification

B3

Importance

In landscape terms quite significant, less so for ecology and recreation, although the bluebell, ramsons and dog's mercury show that the site has been more or less wooded for a long period.

Date Surveyed

14 March 2000

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Survey information

Introduction

A prominent site situated along the north side of the River Don. In multiple ownership.

History

The present wood has a very curious evolution. In the 1854 OS map the site is more shown without the steel works railway but looks much more sparsely wooded than today. The area in and around the wood was the focus of mineral extraction - the 1854 OS Map shows a sandstone quarry in the northeastern part of the wood. The 1932 Geological Survey Map shows an abandoned shaft on the site of the quarry. Along the eastern boundary of the wood with Wortley Road two coal pits are shown on the 1854 map. The present planting of mainly beech occurred at around the beginning of the twentieth century. More recently the site of the quarry has been filled in and planted up with trees (some still have their rabbit guards attached).  

Topography

Most of the site is south to southeast facing and in places quite steep. The main right of way which is part of the Stocksbridge Steel Valley Walk crosses the site starting from the southeast (at Wortley Road) and runs obliquely to the northwest to emerge into pasture fields of Ellen Cliff Farm. The railway linking the steel works to the main line along the Don Valley was laid in the 1870s and the line involved the creation of a large cutting through the site.

Recreation and Use

Little recreation apart from the rights of way used by horse riders, cyclists and walkers.

Present Management

Very little, apart from the cutting back of vegetation from footpaths.

Previous survey/studies

The area under the ownership of the then Stocksbridge Engineering Steels had an initial survey (arboricultural) carried out in 1988. Five zones were identified within this ownership noting tree species, including elm and Urtica urens (small nettle). The study made recommendations for woodland management that encouraged ground florea and diversity in woodland structure and age.

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Click to see Plant Communities map  

 

Main Plant Communities

Community

General Description

Characteristic Species

Community A

Tall herb (ex-allotment site).

Rumex obtusifolius, Urtica dioica, Taraxacum officinalis agg., Galium aparine, Epilobium hirsutum, Cirsium sp.

Community B

Scrub and woodland edge.

Sambucus nigra, Rosa canina, Urtica dioica, Corylus avellana

Community C

Mixed deciduous woodland with varying structural diversity and tree regeneration.

Acer pseudoplatanus, Quercus petraea, Holcus mollis, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus

Community D

Mixed deciduous woodland with very impoversihed or no structural diversity.

Holcus mollis, Deschampsia flexuosa, Hyacinthoides non-scrpitus, Fagus sylvatica, Quercus petraea

Community E

Tall herb and scrub along railway lines.

Pteridium aquilinum, Teucrium scorodonia, Quercus petraea, Rubus fruticosus agg.

Community F

Recently planted broad-leaved trees.

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Ecological Value

This site consists mainly of a mixed deciduous woodland that probably originates from a combination of planting and natural regeneration. The site contains two main types of woodland. Much the largest of the two is a woodland (Community C) that has structural diversity (including standing deadwood) in varying degrees, depending on slope and other factors. This community contains most of the interest for ground flora with bluebell, yellow archangel and greater stitchwort present. The eastern part of the wood contains two large components of this woodland community - one on either side of the Stocksbridge railway. They are similar in structure and species. The southern part hosts a small rookery using some of the tallest trees (around ten nests in four scattered trees; a count at the end of March recorded 33 nests in eight trees). Nutrient inputs from the rookery may be contributing to the dense understorey of nettles, cleavers and elder in this area. Within the northern part is an open area (Community F) that has been recently planted-up with broad-leaved saplings - no species were recorded for this community.

Click to see vegetation map

Walking in a westerly direction along the railway line the woodland (Community C) along the north part of the railway line gives way to a very steep sloping, eroded area containing beech and other broad-leaved species and very impoverished ground and shrub layers (see photo 8). This is a defining feature of Community D (at the top of the slopes Community C is present with areas dominated by creeping soft grass and bluebell). This meets the Stocksbridge Steel Valley Walk (after it crosses the railway) to continue northwest to a large area of woodland that contains much less bare ground but with very low growing vegetation. The trees are roughly even-aged with broad-leaved species such as oak, beech and sycamore. There is no shrub layer because of the density of canopy and also considerable grazing from sheep allowed free access in from the northwest entrance (many sheep tracks run into the wood - see photo 6). Some oaks are present here and one or two showed evidence of old woodpecker holes. The other main part of Community D is to be found in and around a steep, roughly northwest-southeast ravine (probably man-made?) just north of the railway line. At the southern end (bounded by a wall) are located sparse patches of ramsons. (South of the wall is there a large and vigorously-growing patch).     

The southwest of the site (still north of the railway line) also contains Community C woodland, though there is more oak and sycamore in evidence. The eastern part is more diverse, with hawthorn, hazel and even some rhododendron present. Some nest boxes have been put up on the larger trees in this area. Ground flora is mainly creeping soft grass and probably a lot of bluebell. The shrub layer consists of some regenerating trees.

From where the Steel Valley Walk and the railway line meet the path eastwards begins to slope down. Along the left hand side of this of this path the boundary of the wood consists of an old iron fence. Further down and the vegetation is more developed growing over and along the fence. Along here was the only patch of dog's mercury found (bluebell and yellow archangel are also present but rare). A number of shrubs (rose, hazel and elder) also grow along the boundary. Some nest boxes can be seen on some trees, usually vandalised (holes made larger by gnawing at edges) by grey squirrels. The path exits out to Wortley Road. On the left hand side of the exit (looking east) is an area of mainly tall herb and scrub that was once used as an allotment.

Along the south side of railway line (on the north side of the southeast portion of the wood) is a north-facing tall herb and scrub community with lots of bracken, young oak, mosses, ferns and wood sage present. A patch of spoil/disturbed ground provided contrast.

Botanical Survey - to view lists of species click here

 

Stocksbridge SRB5 Greenspace Audit undertaken by Jim Flanagan for Sheffield Wildlife Trust - see their Community Action Handbook - full of good ideas for your local site


Back to map of ecological survey sites

Inner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I
Back to map of ecological survey sites

nner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I
Back to map of ecological survey sites

nner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Text and Photographs (unless stated otherwise)

©The Steel Valley Project
ARC, Manchester Road, Stocksbridge, S36 2DT
Telephone 0114 - 2830880
Fax - 0114 - 2831117

Companies House Registration Number 4394953

Charities Registration Number 1095510

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latest update 3/02/11

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