Hay meadows were once a common sight throughout the locality, as elsewhere in Britain, but are now confined to small pockets of grassland. Traditionally mown to make hay in July, and then grazed by small numbers of cattle, they support many different plant species, and are at their best during June and early July.
Severn Gorge Countryside Trust manages some important meadows, including the Ropewalk Meadow. This small but spectacular field at upper Coalbrookdale is home to a wealth of flowering plants, including numerous common spotted orchids in June.
Because so few farmers now make hay (silage is much more common) the Trust works with local contractors to manage the fields. They use small, specialist machinery to ensure that the fields continue to get the best possible management cutting the grass after the plants have seeded in July (thus ensuring next years richness) to make the hay bales. This is followed by light grazing by Soay sheep, cattle or horses.