Stenner Woods is an area of wet woodland dominated by crack willow trees, much of the ground being submerged in water throughout most of the year. A wooden boardwalk allows you to enjoy this area without getting your feet wet.
This type of woodland is known as ‘Willow Carr’, and is a remnant of a habitat that at one time would have covered the whole of the Mersey Valley flood plane. Willows will thrive in waterlogged soil where other trees drown or suffer from rotten roots. Drier areas allow an interesting mix of trees at Stenner Woods, including alder, sycamore, birch, ash, poplars and wych elm.
Although a lot of the understory is a tangle of bushes and young trees, there is an interesting ground flora of woodland wildflowers. Some of the marshy areas are more open and support a variety of marginal plants – those which grow in shallow water, but whose leaves emerge from the water. This includes dotted and purple loosestrife, wild angelica and marsh woundwort.
The Wardens will leave dead trees standing where it will not be hazardous to do so. Beetle larvae and other invertebrates soon inhabit the trees; which turns them into larders of food for birds such as great spotted woodpeckers and tree creepers. Look out for the small round holes in the wood drilled by the larvae, and larger holes where the birds have dug the grubs out with their beaks.
Take a net and tray to the pond at the south end of the woods towards Millgate Fields, as it is a good spot for pond dipping. It is one of the few places in the Mersey Valley where you might catch minnows. Please put anything you catch back in the pond.
Stenner Woods can be accessed from Millgate Lane and Stenner Lane in Didsbury.
Download a guide to walks in this area at the link below.