Although modern development has affected the amount of green space we have in the UK, we are still lucky to have large areas of undisturbed nature. From the rolling hills of the South Downs to gorgeous woodlands of the Peak District. Incredibly, some British woodland has been around since 1600AD. These areas are known as Ancient Woodland and account for 2% of Britain’s land area, offering an incredible habitat for all manners of plant and animal life.
Ancient Woodlands have been allowed to grow without interruption for centuries, they are delicate eco-systems that rely on the organisms that live there to thrive. Luckily many of these areas are now protected across the United Kingdom. Otherwise, any interference could cause these environments to collapse. More effort is being placed into replacing lost woodland, however, due to the nature of these Ancient Woods, the environments may not develop for decades.
There are some amazing woodlands in the UK with a plethora of rich history, from myths to recorded events, we look at some of the best places to visit.
Banagher Glen, County Derry
Sadly, Irish Woods are a bit of a rarity, only 6% of Northern Ireland is covered by woodland, having been felled for farmland around 6,000 years ago. However, Banagher Glen Nature Reserve is home to one of the oldest ancient woodlands in Ireland and makes for a spectacular walk. Tied to legend, it’s said the gorge under the bridge in Banagher Glen is home to Lig-na-Paiste, the last snake in Ireland that was trapped here by St Patrick.
Pamber Forest, Hampshire
Sunlight streaking through tree canopies into wild-flower scattered clearings, a picture-perfect scene you’ll sure to find in Pamber Forest, Hampshire. Home to three species of woodpecker, the woodlands are alive with wildlife, most notably with butterflies during the summer months. Sit and relax while beautiful species flutter around you, look out for White Admiral, Purple Emperors and large Brimstone butterflies. Search for the remains of Roman Silchester, whose crumbling-stone city walls can still be seen.
Badby Wood, Northamptonshire
Badby Wood has been a recorded as a woodland site as far back as 750 years ago and is now a protected biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Most notable for the Carpet of Bluebells that cover the forest floor during the spring months. Badby Wood is also thought to be haunted, locals have said to have seen a ghostly woman riding a white horse while others have mentioned seeing a highwayman.
Epping Forest, Essex
Research done in Epping Forest has shown the area has had continuous tree cover for over 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest woodlands in the UK. Roman buildings have been found throughout the forest, indicating it has always been an important area to people. Epping Forest is thought to be where infamous highwayman Dick Turpin hid after an altercation in May 1737.
Coed Craig Ruperra, South Wales
Coed Craig Ruperra is an interesting woodland, owned by local charity Ruperra Conservation Trust, the efforts of local volunteers have helped the recovering broadleaved woodland develop. The area is rich with history, visit the Iron Age Fort or gaze upon the impressive Ruperra Castle.
King’s Wood, Kent
Found in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, King’s Wood is a 1500-acre forest historically used as a royal hunting forest. A vast variety of flora and fauna can be found throughout the woodland and visitors can still catch glimpses of the herd of fallow deer that call this land their home. Visitors to the forest can explore via the Sculpture Trail, a 3.5-mile trail of beautiful natural art pieces installed by several sculptures.
Why not plan your next staycation around some of Britain’s Ancient Woodlands? There are plenty of opportunities for camping, from caravan stays to tent pitches in the area. Badby Wood, for instance, is within a reasonable distance of Overstone Solarium park homes – a peaceful residential park hidden in 115 acres of spectacular woodland.
These relatively untouched areas of beauty have many secrets waiting for you to discover but don’t forget the wise words of Chief Seattle, “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.” We want to ensure these amazing places remain undisturbed for future generations to enjoy.