For an atmospheric ancient woodland location visit Wayland Wood near Watton, the alleged site of the ‘Babes in the Wood’ legend.
Walking around the densely packed trees on a winter’s afternoon, it’s easy to believe there’s some truth in the dark tale, though the reality is that the dense woodland is down to the traditional coppice woodland management techniques used to benefit wildlife. The wood has a history of coppicing going back to the 10th century.
Wayland is one of the largest woods in south Norfolk and includes a fine mix of tree species: hazel, oak, downy birch, bird-cherry, sallow, ash, hornbeam and field maple. Over 125 species of flowering plant have been recorded. These include bluebells, yellow archangel, water avens, wood anemone, early purple orchid, common twayblade, bugle, and the rare yellow star of Bethlehem.
Good numbers of common woodland birds are present, with more unusual residents including breeding nuthatch, marsh tit and bullfinch. The wood is excellent for invertebrates with more than 250 species of moth recorded.
Yellow star of Bethlehem
Wayland Wood is the only site in Norfolk (and one of just a few in
East Anglia) where this pretty yellow perennial occurs. It flowers early in March, preferring shady areas in the southeast corner of the wood.
Wayland Wood is 1km (0.6 miles) south of Watton on the A1075 to Thetford. The reserve and small car park are signed. A circular walk (which can be muddy at all times of year) leads around the reserve.