Pelsall North Common Local Nature Reserve is one of the most valuable wildlife sites in the borough, and potentially the West Midlands region. Like its neighbour, Brownhills Common, it is an area of wet lowland heath, an increasingly rare habitat that supports a vast array of wildlife from specialist heathland butterflies and bees to a wide variety of birds and mammals.
A Wild Place to Visit
Mammals recorded on site include bats, voles, mice, shrews, foxes, rabbits and even polecats! It is also a great site for amphibians and reptiles, as it is also one of only four countryside sites in the borough with a thriving population of the protected Great Crested Newt, and one of only two sites where you can see lizards!
The whole common is split into two parts by the Wyrley and Essington Canal, and it’s the 92 acres north of the canal that is managed by Countryside Services as a nature reserve.
In particular, Pelsall North Common is now known to be one of the only sites in the West Midlands to have a population of the rare Tormentil Mining Bee, as well as the nationally scarce mining bee Andrena humilis (which unfortunately doesn’t have a common name!)
But its not just animal life that thrives on the common – there are a fantastic array of heathland plants and flowers, including Southern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids!
A Dog-walker’s Dream
Pelsall North Common is much loved by dog walkers, who use the lattice of winding trails to wander across the site, stopping often to chat with each other. It’s a very friendly place to walk, so don’t be surprised if you end up chatting about orchids with a passer-by! There is something quite ‘wild’ feeling about the place, a feeling you don’t get in heavily manicured parks, so its no wonder that people come from miles around to watch wildlife, go for health walks, eat picnics and pass a lazy summer afternoon. Because although the site is fantastic to visit throughout the year, it really is at its best in late summer when the heather is in flower, creating vast purple carpets all around you.
A Cracking History
With its wild feel and rich natural history, you could easily believe that its been that way forever, but Pelsall North Common and its network of canals has a history that is more industrial than natural!
At one time, Pelsall village was a simple farming parish that became transformed by the Industrial Revolution. The earliest settlement (ca1215) was called ‘Peleshale’ (a hale, or ‘hahl’ means land between two streams – maybe the Fordbrook and Clockmill!)
The common would have been used for rough grazing until 1794 when the canal was built, after which a large area of the common was taken up by a huge iron works. Many local people worked there, and the iron works thrived until the 1920s when it was finally demolished. The common was even called ‘The Cracker’ by locals, after one of the huge foundry machines!
Parking: End of Wood Lane, Pelsall
Buses: From Walsall, number 8, alight at the Finger Post Pub
Nature Trails: Loads of paths all around the reserve, Orienteering trail
Wildlife to see: Heathland butterflies and bees, mammals, birds, lizards
This site is great for: Walking, wildlife-watching, picnics
Grid Reference: SK 015 045
Environmental Improvement Team
Clean and Green Environmental Depot
200 Pelsall Lane