About this wood
Wentwood forms part of the largest block of ancient woodland within Wales which is now planted with conifers, a planted ancient woodland (PAWS). It is found within an area that has a concentration of ancient woodlands that runs between the rivers Usk and Wye. It is over 1000 acres of continuous woodland that has been in the main planted with conifers. The Woodland Trust own 352ha. The remainder is owned / managed by the Forestry Commission Wales / Comisiwn Coedwigaeth Cymru. A small area remains in private ownership. Both the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust have an open access policy for quiet informal recreation.
The recorded history of Wentwood extends to over a 1000 years. Once a hunting preserve of Chepstow Castle, it is now a conifer plantation. The first small areas of conifers were planted in the early 1700’s, some of the first in the United Kingdom. Larger areas had been planted by 1880 and are recorded in the first edition Ordnance Survey maps. The first and second world wars saw the remaining broadleaf trees felled , and by the end of the 1960’s much of Wentwood was planted with conifer, including all the land now owned by the Woodland Trust.
Despite the changes, Wentwood is still a haven for wildlife. In spring many areas are carpeted with Bluebell, in particular the areas planted with larch. Dormice are still living in Wentwood together with adders, lizards, deer and many woodland birds including the nightjar. An interesting insect that lives at Wentwood is the wood ant. They build large nests that can be 3 to 4 feet high.
Wentwood has a number of scheduled ancient monuments surrounding it and a bronze aged burial mounds within the wood. The ancient track ways, charcoal hearths and remains of an old mill gives us a clue to the past uses of the forest.
The Woodland Trust bought part of Wentwood to build on the interest that remains. We will be restoring a range of habitats which will not only include ancient woodland but also heathland. It will be a long time before Wentwood is returned to its full former glory, but positive changes can be seen now.
The wood has a number of access points and is crisscrossed by footpaths and bridleways and is used regularly by local people. Forestry operations occur throughout the woodland and safety notices should be observed by all visitors.