Category Archives: FORH updates

Friends of Rowley Hills AGM

We will be holding our AGM this Sunday, 30th October 2022, at 10:30am (don’t forget the clocks go back!). Anyone interested in the work of the Friends of Rowley Hills is welcome.


New Rowley Hills walking trail leaflet published, plus fantastic paintings from local artist!

A new walking trail leaflet has recently been published, detailing some of the fascinating and intertwined geology and history of the Rowley Hills area. Copies of the leaflet are available from local libraries, Bumble Hole Visitors Centre, Lion Farm Action Centre, Dudley Museum and Archives and more. You can also download and print a copy at home – be aware the whole leaflet is A3 sized. The leaflet is a joint venture between the Black Country Geological Society, Friends of Rowley Hills, Sandwell Council and the Black Country Global Geopark, and has been made possible thanks to funding from Grace Mary to Lion Farm Big Local.

We’ve also recently been shown these beautiful paintings by a local artist, Tracey F, of the newly opened up section of Church Walk and a Rowley Church winter scene. We hope to see some more of Tracey’s work soon, it’s wonderful to see our local area depicted with such a good eye!

Narrow miss on Portway Hill

As has been widely reported during the recent heatwaves, there has been a big increase in wildfires around the country, and unfortunately this has included the Rowley Hills. Last month, a large area of felled trees on Portway Hill at the end of St Brades Close caught fire. These trees had been left by contractors who felled them in 2021, and despite the risk (not to mention the right of way that had become blocked by the trees) had not returned to remove them. The contractors were acting on behalf of the owner of that parcel of land.

Fortunately the fire was brought quickly under control by the fire service before it could spread to the nearby houses. Had the fire spread to the fences along the back of the houses where the trees had been cut down and just left in situ, and got a hold, the consequences could have been much worse. Following the fire, contractors are chipping the felled trees so the area will be much safer in the future. The Friends of Rowley Hills will be able to use the chippings to spread along the paths later this year.

Although we’ve since had some wet weather, further warm, dry conditions are forecast over the next week so if you’re out and about in the Rowley Hills and see anything that looks like a fire risk, you can report it. It goes without saying, please don’t use barbecues in the hills or discard lit cigarette butts. Thankyou!

Recent news, including a big achievement

The Friends of Rowley Hills are celebrating a great achievement – the opening up of the lost section of ‘Coaching Road’ on Portway Hill. Over the years this 80m stretch of the old double-hedgerow, which we believe at one time continued all the way to Rowley Church, had been lost to encroaching vegetation. In October 2021 we made a start at clearing it, and the results of our endeavours can be seen in the below photographs.

In other recent news, we warmly welcome Senior Reserves Officer Jake Williams as our new Wildlife Trust representative on the Rowley Hills, and look forward to working with him on future volunteering days which will be announced soon. We also wish Natalie Norton all our best wishes in her new appointment with Butterfly Conservation.

Intensive litter-picking on the hills!

During January and February FORH have carried out litter-picks along both sides of Portway Hill. The accumulation of dumped rubbish and thrown-out cans and plastic bottles from passing motorists in this area has been of great concern to the Friends of Rowley Hills for some time now and over the past few years the problem with littering has steadily increased.

Portway Hill regularly attracts fly-tipping and from this area alone over 50 bags of rubbish have been removed along with carpets and hazardous waste such as old tyres etc. Litter that had accumulated along the hedgerow in Oakham Road bordering the Dudley Golf Club land between the Wheatsheaf and Warrens Hall Care Home has also been removed. We are grateful to Serco and Sandwell Council for their prompt response in organising the collection of the litter-filled bags and other rubbish from the roadside.

We would also like to thank Mark Smith and staff at Edwin Richards Quarry who have carried out litter-picks from their side of the fence on the bank overlooking Portway Hill.

Round-up of recent news from the hills!

Tom Hartland Smith, Senior Conservation Officer at the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country, recently wrote us this summary of the past few months’ events on the Rowley Hills:

If you have not managed to come along to any of the events and volunteer days over the last few months you will have missed out on an exciting look into what moth species we have on the hillside, of which the Chinese Character Cilix glaucata was a first spot for me, but all the moths on the hillside were new records for the site – how exciting! The glorious early morning bird walk for International Dawn Chorus day was a great success and we were rewarded with a lovely sunrise with spectacular views and delightful birdsong throughout. We also had another successful and delightful butterfly walk where we were greeted with a kaleidoscope of butterflies on a hot summer day. On one of the volunteer days we popped out some new reptile mats which we have positioned to gauge if there is a population of reptiles on the hillside (no joy yet but still checking).

During the regular volunteer days we have worked on opening up some of the public rights of way, re-installing PRoW way markers and tidying up the site when we can. We’ve also been monitoring the meadow in which we found Common Spotted Orchid, which is a first for the hillside, and spreading Harebell and Yellow Rattle seeds as well as introducing Alder and Purging Buckthorn to try and increase these food plants for the Brimstone butterfly.

A new replacement interpretation panel has been purchased and is ready to be installed on the cairn on one of the upcoming volunteer days. Myself and Mike Poulton are going to be meeting to sort out doing some small mammal trapping; information about this will be posted on the Friends of Rowley Hills website in due course. If you are interested in getting involved in the surveying of small mammals on the hillside, please email

I hope you are all well and thank you all for making such a massive impact on a cracking site. I always look forward to the volunteer days and events on Portway Hill, as the hillside and people have so much to offer.

Police Community Support Officers visit the Rowley Hills

On the evening of Thursday, 23rd August members of our committee met up with PCSO Ria Ware and PCSO Alan Wiltshire, who had kindly agreed to accompany us on a tour of the Portway Hill site. We took this opportunity to show them where unlawful activities are taking place, which includes cable burning, drug abuse, under-age drinking and off-road motorbike and 4-wheel vehicle scrambling.

PCSOs visit Portway Hill

We welcomed the advice they gave regarding reporting such matters to the police; please refer to the How you can help page for information regarding this.