Roach Hills

including  Shuttocks Woods and surroundings

YWT reserve


   Recorders: Rachel Inhestor      Altitude 90m     Length   1918m   time : 1hour 

Lying at the top of the Magnesian Limestone ridge this transect includes SSSI site Roach Lime Hills and is partly unimproved calcareous grassland but there is encroaching scrub. Transect also cuts through broadleaved woodland and includes a public footpath which passes through farmland crops.


S1 Unimproved calcareous grassland and a little scrub

S2 an Arable Field

S3 edge of an arablel field with a hedgeline

S4 fottpath with calcareous grassland beyond the hedge linings  also bordering Woodland

S5Calcareous grassland of teh SSI managed in sections by sheep

S6 Arable

S7 + S8  Wooded area on the edge of housing estate

S9 Scrubby area with patches of calcareous grassland.

Results 2023

County wide 2023 results reflect  the 2022 Heat and drought  with Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock nearly halved for the second year against their 5 year average. Red Admiral arrived in force in July and took advantage of soft nettle growth of the rains and had their best year ever. Drought sensitive species on thin soils were badly hit,  particularly Dark -green Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus but also Ringlet, Green-viened White and Small Heath.  Less drought affected species along with the hottest June on record built even more on gains last year leading to Comma, Brimstone, Holly Blue and most Browns  having a fantastic year reaching all time highs. A increase of 9% overall was mostly due to sheer numbers of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers ment 2023 nearly pipped 2014 as best year in modern times.  Most noticeable was the large differeces between moisiture retaining mineral soils of the valleys and thin, dry limestone or sandy soils. A large number of damp grassland, hedgerow and woodland  dominated sites benefitted hugely with 3 sites seeing more than 50% increase . A smaller number of thin, chalky, sandy or craggy sites did badly some down up to 25%.

Roach Hills did well as part calcareous grasslands which were well down elsewhere but hedges and woodlands did well so only down 3% 

It follows the county trends mostly with big increases in meadow Brown, Marbled White and Gatekeeper. Ringlet was universaly down as a drought sensitive species .  Wonderful to see Wall return where in many places it suffered loses it also managed to increase its range! Its presence makes this transect even more intersting.