CHERRY Orchard Local Nature Reserve is one of numerous nature reserves and other green spaces managed by Worcester City Council. It’s a lovely place, yet not so long ago it was a landfill site.

When waste operations ceased in 1987 it was left undisturbed and plants and animals soon began to reclaim it – so successfully that in 2003, it was designated a nature reserve. It’s looked after by the city council’s team of wildlife rangers, together with local volunteers.

The reserve is dominated by flower-rich grassland and scrub but it also supports other habitats, and particularly benefits from being bordered by the river Severn, Duck Brook and patches of mature woodland.

Rich in wildlife, the nature reserve provides city dwellers with the chance to encounter species such as slow-worm or green woodpecker on their doorsteps.

It’s worth visiting at any time of year, but is particularly lovely in autumn because of its wealth of berries and fruits, mostly in shades of red. Hips and haws are most numerous but there are rowan berries and crab apples too.

Pretty lilac-colouredMichaelmas daisies bloomprofusely in the meadows which formthe heart of the nature reserve. Though not a native species, this plant naturalises readily and provides a useful source of autumn nectar for late-flying butterflies, bees and hoverflies.

Cherry Orchard is just one of several delightful places visited on this very rural-seeming walk within the city. Chapter Meadows, on the other side of the Severn, is another valuable green space.

Owned by Duckworth Worcestershire Trust, the meadows are cut for hay, grazed by cattle and enriched by winter flooding. If you want to explore the meadows, there are two signposted routes to choose from. The Buttercup Route runs parallel with the river, and the slightly longer Loosestrife Route includes Sling Ditch and some seasonally wet areas. There are two stiles to cross if you choose the Loosestrife Route. Dogs must be on leads in Chapter Meadows.

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal, Pitchcroft and the leafy oasis of beautiful Britannia Square are also included in the walk – but only if you want them to be, as it’s one of those walks which offers almost infinite permutations. It can be started and finished at almost any point, depending on which is most convenient, and can easily be extended or shortened, mostly in ways which are immediately obvious.

There are also numerous options within Cherry Orchard Nature Reserve. To avoid confusion, only wide, mown paths are used in the walk described here, but there are many other unmown but trodden paths through the reserve. These are not mentioned in the route description but any of them may be used instead – it’s hard to get lost for very long with such a prominent feature as the river Severn forming the western boundary of the site.


START Worcester Bridge; grid ref SO846547.

LENGTH 5¼ miles/8.5km.

MAPS OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150, Worcester Walking and Cycling Map, published by the county council and available at tourist information centres.

TERRAIN Grassland, woodland, towpaths, residential streets, no hills.

FOOTPATHS Faultless.

STILES Three (optional).

PARKING Any convenient car park.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Numerous services from the rest of the county; timetables, 01905 765765,, 08457 484950.

REFRESHMENTS Cafés, pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops at several points along the way, notably Diglis Basin, Sidbury, Tything and Butts Parade/Croft Road.


1 Walk downstream along Bromwich Parade, on the west bank of the Severn. After 700 metres you will reach the entrance to Chapter Meadows. At this point you can either continue along the riverbank or choose one of two waymarked paths through the meadows, rejoining the river a little further on.

2 Cross Diglis Bridge, ignore Withy Bed Way and continue downstream for 300m before taking a path into Cherry Orchard Nature Reserve. There’s no signage but the path is obvious. Go left when you come to a junction. After walking through woodland and scrub, you’ll pass a meadow dotted with trees and bushes, including a crab apple covered in masses of tiny, deep-red fruit. Go right at the next junction, with meadows either side of the path, then turn right at a cross-path. Turn right again at the next two junctions, then left at another two. You’ll glimpse the river on your right but you’ll soon leave it behind to follow Duck Brook instead. Leave the nature reserve at a footbridge and turn left through woodland to a housing estate.

3 Turn left, then left again on St Mark’s Close. After a few metres cross a stile (there’s a gate further on) to re-enter the nature reserve. Turn left past bottle banks into grassland and scrub.

Turn right at the next junction to return to the cross-path encountered earlier. Go to the right then keep straight on to meet Withy Bed Way. This cycleway goes directly to Diglis Bridge, but it’s much nicer to turn left through the meadows instead of taking the cycleway. Turn right at the next junction, re-joining your outward route, recognisable by the crab apple tree mentioned above (point two). Go right at the next two junctions, rejoining the Severn and heading upstream.

4 Join the canal towpath at Diglis Bottom Lock and follow the canal into the city. The towpath changes sides at bridge 5A.

5 Turn left along the edge of a sports ground, then left in the next corner. Turn right on Lower Chestnut Street, then left at a T-junction and right on St Oswald’s Road to the Tything.

Turn right and cross the road, then go left to Britannia Square.

Turn right, and then soon left, to the far side of the square. Turn right, then next left to find access to Pitchcroft and the Severn.