This historic woodland is made up of five smaller woods of varying age and landowners, the oldest part referenced as early as 1251. The County Wildlife Site is divided by a SSSI known as ‘Big Wood’, the south east woodland is owned by the Woodland Trust and the remainder is privately owned. There is easy public access throughout the main wood via wide rides and an array of small paths.
The southern section closest to the car park is a narrow strip of woodland with a central ride of mature oak, ash and large leaved lime. The understory is dense with hazel, hawthorn and holly, and a deep rich leaf litter that supports dog’s mercury, an indicator species of ancient woodland. Flowering honeysuckle clothes some of the larger plants and there is considerable standing and fallen dead wood, a fantastic habitat for a range of invertebrates.
North of the dividing SSSI, the woodland forms two distinct areas; the west being similar in structure to the southern section, but with a diverse ground flora that includes dog’s mercury, primrose, sanicle, early dog violets and in early purple orchids in spring.
The eastern side is of more open canopy and sparser understory, and here visitors can spot numerous beautiful mature and regenerating hornbeams, along with scattered sallow, silver birch, field maple, common lime and ash. Further north the canopy becomes even lighter and younger with regeneration and saplings.
There is a single large, mature yew on the northern edge of the ride and on the opposite ride edge, a single mature beech. Patches of bluebell, wood sorrel and pyramidal orchids appear, along with a few mature Scot’s pine, extensive thickets of dog rose and dense natural regeneration of hornbeam and holly. There is a single live, mature black poplar tree – now rarely found in the wild due to extensive national declines.
Semi-natural ancient woodland.
Best time to visit
There is something to see any time of year in the woodland but particularly so during changes in seasons: springtime is for enjoying the trees budding to life after winter followed by the emergence of ground flora, notably the orchids. Autumn is the season to appreciate a spectrum of leaf colours, as well as being the best time of year for a fungal foray.
The Woodland Trust - https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/