Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations


Soil and site characteristics
Well drained very stony loamy soils on moderate to steep bouldery slopes. Crags and scree Locally extensive.

Igneous rock
Cropping and Land Use
Stock rearing in moist uplands on permanent grassland and good value rough grazing; widespread deciduous woodland habitats.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
6.11 MALVERN 30% Chromic Endoleptic Umbrisols
6.11 MORETONHAMPSTEAD 20% Chromic Mollic Endoskeletic Umbrisols
6.11 DAVIDSTOW 20% Endoskeletic Entic Podzols
Covers 619 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining acid loamy soils over rock

Alert ! - brown podzolic soils read the alert


Detailed Description

The Malvern association is extensive in the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Cheviot Hills. It is also found on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall; near Alnwick, Northumberland; in upper Teesdale, Durham; and in central Wales, the Malvern Hills and the Welsh Borderland. It extends over a wide range of altitude and climate, and occurs generally on steep bouldery slopes. Soils are formed in shallow drift over igneous rocks of variable acidity. Locally there are extensive crags and screes. The principal soils are typical brown podzolic soils, the Malvern, Moretonhampstead and Davidstow series. Malvern and Davidstow soils are both developed on basic and intermediate igneous rocks; the former are very stony to the surface whereas the latter are often only slightly stony through to the subsoil. The Moretonhampstead series is similar to Davidstow soils but is developed in acid igneous rocks. On the Malvern Hills a substantial proportion of Iveshead series is included where very stony profiles overlie acid igneous rocks. On the Clee Hills, and sporadically elsewhere, a humose topsoil has developed and the Bowden series is locally important. In south-west Dyfed, shallow Preseli and Dunwell soils are common, as are the Bowden and Moor Gate series. Locally there are inclusions of the Harthope series on outcrops of basic crystalline rocks. in Snowdonia the Preseli series is included with Bowden, Dunwell, Mayalls and Trusham series. Iveshead and Gunnislake series are rare. In Furness, Cumbria, the association includes soils formerly mapped as Brantwood association.

Soil Water Regime

The soils are well drained and readily absorb winter rainwater except on the steepest slopes.

Cropping and Land Use

Grazing values are high although stocking density has fallen recently and the open grassland, particularly on lower slopes, is being colonized by Scots pine, ash, hazel and sycamore. The Malvern, Wrekin and Church Stretton hills support a wide range of wildlife because of the varied habitats provided by mixed woodland, rough grazing and bracken. In wales on low ground the soils are in grass, with occasional barley crops on flatter land. The shallower soils are liable to drought but there are no poaching restrictions and, in western districts, there is a long autumn flush of grass, and grass continues to grow slowly for much of the winter. The land is used mainly for livestock rearing. At higher altitudes, in south-west Dyfed most of Snowdonia and around Builth Wells, bent-fescue grassland of good grazing value is common but bracken infestation occurs in places. In Snowdonia there is little other than rough grazing, with some oak woodland preserved on the steeper and more rocky land where cultivation is not feasible. The closely cropped bent-fescue grassland with an abundance of small herbs is grazed by sheep and has a large carrying capacity. Although this land has largely been untried for commercial forestry in Wales, planting with Sitka spruce and Douglas fir would be appropriate. In exposed places trees suffer windthrow on the more shallow and stony soils.

In the Lake District the craggy and bouldery slopes are largely in rough grazing. Nevertheless this has relatively high grazing value except where the land is eroded, very bouldery or bracken-infested. Widespread sessile oak woodlands enhance the scenery and shelter abundant wildlife, those in Borrowdale being classified as a Grade, 1 Nature Conservation Site (Ratcliffe 1977). Elsewhere, slopes are gentle to moderately steep and the land is generally in improved grassland. There is little poaching risk and, despite only moderate profile available water, the moist climate prevents drought. Although these are potentially among the most valuable of Lake District soils, the steep and craggy land is more suitable for trees than for agriculture. Good crops of conifers can be grown but these are unpopular for aesthetic reasons. Crags and steep gradients necessitate planting by hand and extraction by cable crane. Plantations in the Duddon valley include Sitka spruce, Norway spruce, Japanese larch and a little Douglas fir.


Distribution Map

Note that the yellow shading represents a buffer to highlight the location of very small areas of the association.

Keys to component soil series



Northern Region

Typical Landscapes



Northern Region

All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2024

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2024. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 19/07/2024

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