Skip Navigation

More about Gorse Covert Mounds

This suburban site is a delightful mosaic of mixed woodland, meadows and ponds, and supports an amazing variety of plants and wildlife. Its network of accessible paths allows you to enjoy woodland and waterside walks, and some stunning views from Pestfurlong Hill. On a clear day you can see as far as the West Pennine Moors.

Gorse Covert Mounds is a haven for wildlife and a place where local residents can escape the bustle of the urban environment. Nowadays, it’s hard to believe that a century ago this undulating stretch of greenery was just a flat expanse of peat bog, often shrouded in a blanket of mist, or that it later served as the site of a huge wartime munitions factory.

A stroll through its woodlands and meadows is the perfect way to enjoy the changing of the seasons. In spring, the hawthorn, blackthorn and cherry are covered with clouds of white blossom. In summer, the meadows are sprinkled with wildflowers, such as daisy, buttercup, delicate pink herb robert and the vivid blue of tufted vetch. Early autumn is a great time to gather juicy blackberries and watch out for signs of the broadleaf trees changing to shades of russet and gold. And in winter, look out for migrant birds, such as the brambling and redwing, on the hunt for berries and seeds, and for the little scarlet-capped lesser redpoll with its curious habit of hanging upside-down from the branches to feed.

Gorse covert mounds
A walk through the trees
at Gorse Covert Mounds

The site’s many ponds are a source of interest throughout the year too. In spring they come alive with frogs and toads, and you’ll find clumps of frog spawn, and toad spawn like strings of black pearls. In summer, their borders are bright with yellow flag iris and creamy meadowsweet, and iridescent dragonflies flit across the surface of the water. As dusk falls, you may also catch sight of bats darting through the air on the hunt for insects.

With its abundance of plants and wildlife, walks to suit all abilities, and picnic spots overlooking the ponds, Gorse Covert Mounds is perfect for all age groups.

Read more about the wildlife at Gorse Covert Mounds in the habitat survey (PDF. 0.4MB)

Setting

At 19.59-hectare (48.41-acre) Gorse Covert Mounds lies in the suburbs of Birchwood, 9.7km (six miles) east of Warrington and close to junction 11 of the M6. It forms a long, narrow ridge of green space running roughly south-west to north-east, and is sandwiched between the A574 (Birchwood Way) and the M62 to the north, and Gorse Covert housing estate to the south.

The site is part of the Mersey Forest, an expanding network of woodlands across Merseyside and North Cheshire, and is around 1.5km (under a mile) from Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, to which it is connected by a green corridor.

OS Explorer 276, Landranger 109, SJ665928

Access and walks

The main entrance and car park is off Gorse Covert Road. The site is relatively flat and accessible, and has 3km (1.9 miles) of paths, most of which are stone surfaced, with access through kissing gates. The main path runs along a ridge so requires some up and downhill walking. Cycling is allowed along marked permissive routes.

The paths link to a wider network of footpaths and bridleways connecting the site to Birchwood Forest Park, and the Woodland Trust-owned Pestfurlong Moss, a small woodland that contains remnants of the original peat moss land that once covered the area. This is easily visible from the path in the eastern section of Gorse Covert Mounds although access into Pestfurlong Moss itself is limited. Risley Moss, a nature reserve and SSSI managed by Warrington Council ranger service is worth a visit and is less than a mile away.

Popular walks include:

  1. Gorse Covert Mounds linear walk (around 1.6km/one mile; 50 minutes, one steep slope and some steps). This pleasant walk takes you through young woodland and open meadows to Pestfurlong Hill, from where you can enjoy some excellent views.
  2. Pestfurlong Hill loop (0.4km/0.25 miles, 20 minutes; moderately steep slope). This is a delightful summer circuit, perfect for wildflower and butterfly spotting, and views over Pestfurlong Moss.
  3. The Ponds loop (0.3km/0.2 miles; 15 minutes; gentle slopes) is a peaceful waterside walk through meadows and woodland.

Nearest amenities

Toilets
The nearest toilets are at Birchwood shopping centre on Dewhurst Road, WA3 7PG, which are open Monday-Saturday, 8:00-20:00, Sunday 10:00-17:00, and have facilities for the disabled.

Refreshments
The Birchwood shopping centre has a number of cafes, and there is also a range of pubs and other eateries in Birchwood and nearby Warrington (9.7km/six miles east). Visit TripAdvisor and Visit Cheshire websites for details.

Tourist information and accommodation
For information on places to stay and things to do in and around Birchwood and Warrington, visit Visit TripAdvisor and Visit Cheshire and websites.

The Warrington Tourist Information Centre is based at Warrington Bus Interchange, Horsemarket Street, Warrington WA1 1TF. Tel: 01925 428585; email: informationcentre@warrington.gov.uk.

Directions

By bus
The number 25 bus runs from Warrington and stops on Gorse Covert Road. There is a bus stop close to the main entrance.

By train
The nearest train station is Birchwood (4.8km/three miles). For up-to-date information on public transport, visit the traveline website.

By car
From Warrington, take the A574 eastwards, towards Birchwood. At the roundabout after Birchwood Forest Park, take the third exit onto Moss Gate. At next roundabout, take first exit onto Fisherfield Drive, and then turn left onto Gorse Covert Road, where the car park is located.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.