This week we stay south of Dowles Brook, exploring the much more popular area of the Wyre Forest near the visitor centre at Callow Hill.

The paths near the centre do get busy at times, but it's easy to find tranquillity once you leave the Forestry Commission trails behind and venture onto ordinary public footpaths.

This walk combines a mixture of the two and includes both Forestry Commission land and the Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve, which is managed by English Nature.

You're more than likely to see fallow deer in the nature reserve if you move quietly. You'll certainly see dozens of squirrels and there should be plenty of birds around too.

The noisy, colourful jay is particularly noticeable at this time of year as it dashes about burying acorns for the coming winter.

The walk includes a visit to an arboretum of young trees planted by the Wyre Forest Society between 1984 and 1994.

These are mainly native species, including relatively scarce ones such as juniper and wild service tree.

On the edge of the arboretum is the famous Whitty Pear, or Sorb Tree (from its Latin name, Sorbus domestica), a descendant of the original Whitty Pear which was discovered nearby in 1678 by Worcester botanist Edmund Pitts.

It was destroyed by fire in 1862 but fortunately cuttings and seeds had been taken. The tree is a bit of an enigma; a southern European relative of our native rowan, it is not found growing in the wild anywhere else in Britain and its origins are unknown.

There are three Forestry Commission trails starting from the visitor centre, each of them waymarked with coloured bands on wooden posts.

They are the Acorn Trail (yellow), the Woodland Trail (red) and the Discovery Trail (green).

Those readers requiring a very short, easy walk might prefer to do one of these instead.

The Forestry Commission says the Acorn Trail is 1.4km (that's less than a mile) and suitable for people of all abilities, including those with wheelchairs or pushchairs. There are also cycleways and "horseshoe trails" for walkers, riders and cyclists.

The visitor centre has a shop, cafe and lots of information, including interactive displays for kids of all ages.


Take the main path into the forest, just to the right of the visitor centre. At a junction turn left, then immediately right on the yellow route (acorn trail).

Look out for point 12 and after you have passed it continue only as far as the next yellow-banded post before leaving the acorn trail, turning right on a wide path descending through mixed woodland.

Ignore a right turn and keep straight on for a little way then bear left down to a cycleway (red/green trail).

Turn left for a few metres to a bench then take a footpath branching left uphill. When it meets a wide track turn left (red/green) to find a memorial bench and a large fingerpost.

Turn right on the green trail. Keep straight on at a junction, crossing a cycleway. When eventually you come to point 10 you'll see the sorb tree.

Just beyond the sorb tree turn left on the red trail. Pass through the arboretum then at a big junction go straight on, still on the red route.

At the next junction turn right, joining a public footpath. From now on yellow arrows at frequent intervals show the way.

Soon after passing through a fenced area start looking out for an easily missed arrow which sends you left towards Dowles Brook. The path descends to meet a track just above the brook.

Turn right for a short distance. Reaching a junction, fork right on the horseshoe trail, which climbs to a crosspaths.

Turn left, then left again on the embankment of the dismantled Cleobury railway, at a sign for Bewdley. Very soon, leave the railway embankment at a gate on the right, taking a path into the National Nature Reserve (NNR). Keep straight on, ignoring branching paths.

Arriving at a junction marked with yellow arrows you'll find the paths are also numbered to aid route-finding. Go straight on along path number 2. After passing a cluster of houses ignore path 6 which branches left.

At the next junction, by a vandalised waymarker, turn right, leaving path 2, then go left, passing a NNR sign.

Ignore branching paths, continue to a T-junction and turn right.

Pass a fenced area then keep straight on at a crosspaths. At a NNR sign turn left then branch right on a narrow path, soon passing through a gate into Forestry Commission conifers.

Turn right at a T-junction and descend into a valley.

Turn left on a cycleway at another T-junction, back on the red trail, which is soon joined by the green one. Follow the combined route back to the visitor centre.


Start: Wyre Forest Visitor Centre, Callow Hill, on A456 west of Bewdley; GR750740.

Length: 5 miles/8km.

Maps: OS Explorer 218, OS Landranger 138.

Terrain: the walk is entirely within Wyre Forest on good, clear paths, which may be muddy in places; there are some brief slopes, none of which is particularly steep.

Stiles: 0.

Parking: at visitor centre.

Public transport: Kidderminster-Hereford services 192/292 operate daily, stopping at the visitor centre, also Kidderminster-Tenbury service 291 on weekdays; frequent connections via Kidderminster (and Bewdley on Sundays); Traveline 0870 6082608.

Refreshments: cafe at visitor centre.

NB: in ecologically sensitive areas of the National Nature Reserve dogs must be on the lead - these areas are clearly signed.


This walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be correct at the time of publication. No responsibility is accepted by either the author or publisher for errors or omissions, or for any loss or injury, however caused.