Walks in Sutton Park
This walk is marked in PURPLE on the map above. The marked route is approximately 1.6 km or 1 mile.
If coming by car, enter by the Four Oaks Gate and park where marked on the map above.
1 This walk starts at the end of Blackroot dam nearest the Blackroot car park. At this point you can see the saw mill where timber produced within Sutton Park is brought to be made into timber products to be used around the park. The mill site is an old sand and gravel quarry which was cut into the deposits of 'Bunter' sands and gravels that were laid down by a large river existing in this area during the Triassic age, some 200-250 million years ago.
At certain times of the year you may see Swallows flying. They return here each spring to nest in the roof space of many of the out-buildings. Also, watch out for Kingfishers. These beautiful birds are known to breed close by.
Take the main path along the dam. This dates back to the 1750's when its construction provided water power for the old mill at the site of the present work-shops. The woodlands to your left consist of mainly Alder, a species suited to the wet conditions. On some of the trees there boxes for bats, which at dusk and dawn may be seen skimming over the pool feeding on insects.
On the pool, watch out for various water birds. These may include Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Coot. Many other birds have been recorded on this pool, which is also the home of other forms of wildlife such as crayfish, mussels, dragonflies, etc. Fish include Roach, Perch, Bream, Pike and Carp.
2 At the end of the dam, turn right after passing over the pool outlet. At 3 ignore the wide path going uphill.
To your left is a fine example of oak woodland. Although other species are present (such as Birch, Holly, Rowan and Pine), oaks are the dominant species. You may think how large some of the oaks grow, but the gravelly soils are not well suited to these trees, and compared with other oak woodlands – the New Forest and the Forest of Dean for example – the oaks are poor, seldom attaining girths in excess of 16 feet (almost 5 m). The record for this country was the Newlands Oak which grew in the Forest of Dean. When it fell in 1956 its girth was 44 feet (13 m).
Continuing along the path, watch out for squirrels. These will be the common Grey Squirrel, which is regarded as a pest species. Despite its friendly appearance, it can cause enormous damage to other wildlife, attacking and eating young birds in the nest. It also does great damage to growing trees, eating young shoots.
4 When the path reaches the end of the pool, notice to your right how wet the low-lying ground is. If you walk down to it, taking care, you will see that the ground is carpeted with mosses. These are mainly sphagnum, but other species will be present. The trees here are once again mainly Alder, but oaks are also beginning to colonize the area, perhaps showing signs that conditions are progressively becoming drier.
Return to the path and continue to follow it, leaving the pool behind. Eventually you will come to a five-bar gate on your right. Go through this onto an open area of semi-heath. Heathers and heathland vegetation are mainly found in the western and northern areas of the park.
5 Follow the pathway crossing the stream, watching out for the Green Woodpecker as you go. This is a favourite area for them.
Railway line before trees were cut back in 2008
6 You will now be at the main track which runs along the railway line. Turn right and head towards Blackroot Pool once more. The wet area to your right is very rich in marshland plants, including Brooklime, Water Forget-me-not, Marsh Marigold, horsetail and Yellow Flag Iris, to name but a few.
By now a train may have passed by. This line is a major freight route from Water Orton to Walsall. The railway has its benefits for wildlife, providing a lifeline or wildlife corridor to the outside world. Anyone looking at a map showing Sutton Park cannot fail to notice that the Park is now cut off from open countryside, making it truly a wildlife oasis.
7 Turn right along the edge of the pool to finish your walk where you started.
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|Based on original web sites designed by Lynn Pearson and Brett Horton.|
|Content last updated: 6 May 2013|