About this wood
Big Wood, near Runcorn in Cheshire, is an area of diverse woodland in an urban area which provides a safe haven for a variety of wildlife. The range of tree and shrub species include many non-native and exotic specimens such as Scots pine, hornbeam and cherry, and is home to owls, foxes, woodpeckers, buzzards and many more creatures that thrive in the woodland. A large planted pond at the centre of the wood is home to newts, toads and frogs.
The wood is also an interesting historical site, having belonged to the Brooke family estate since at least as early as 1757. Records from the period describe the 15-year Parliamentary dispute between the family and the Duke of Bridgewater, who wanted to cut a canal through the site. Paths, ornamental ponds and other features were added to the site during the next 150 years, until the Brookes left the house in 1921, after which the wood became overgrown and fell into disuse.
The 23 acre site has undergone substantial restoration since the 1980s, including the removal of more than 2 hectares of invasive rhododendron. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has allowed the Woodland Trust to carry out much needed woodland management and access work, and to restore the drainage system of ponds and ditches necessary for a healthy wood.
Big Wood borders the historic Norton Priory estate, having once been part of the Norton manor estate before it passed to the Brookes during the dissolution. Medieval ruins, historic walled gardens and a sculpture trail can be found at the Priory, as well as the Refectory cafe and visitor toilets.
A circular shale footpath skirts the wood and is accessed from Norton Priory car park, where visitors can park for free. Segway tours are available, with a 10% discount for Runcorn residents.