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Overview of Penn and Common Woods

Penn Wood is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and lies in the heart of this area. It has a long history and was once part of a very large common called Wycombe Heath. A herd of cows is still used to manage part of the site today as 'wood pasture' and this continues the traditional management carried out in the past. The wood contains impressive bluebell areas in the spring and red kites and buzzards are commonly seen overhead.

Penn Wood is a mosaic of mature woodland, wood pasture, grassland and scrub; providing a variety of habitats for a range of flora and fauna. It’s also one of the largest woods in an area that's renowned for its rich stock of ancient woodland.

Over much of the site the canopy is dominated by broadleaved tree species including oak, beech and birch – some of which are over 200 years old. However, there are also areas of dense coniferous plantation and open pasture.

Red Kite Resized
Red kite (Photo: Dave Foker/WTML)

The diversity of the habitats has given rise to an abundance of wildlife. Red kites are often seen gliding low over the tree tops and cuckoos can be heard throughout the spring and early summer. There are at least ten plants that are not commonly found in Buckinghamshire and a number of nationally scarce invertebrates.

There are also several historic ponds on the site dating back to the time when Penn Wood was part of the large wooded common of Wycombe Heath. These now provide a valuable wetland habitat for amphibians and invertebrates.

And for those interested in archaeology, there are a number of features to look out for which point to the wood’s past, such as banks, ditches, pits and dells.

This is a wonderful place to visit with the added advantage of being close to local amenities yet located in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Download the Penn Wood leaflet (PDF, 0.8MB) for further details.

Nearest amenities

Public conveniences
There are no facilities on site but there are two public houses in Penn Street with facilities for customers. The nearest public conveniences (not open all day) are at Dovecote Meadow and Woodside Close in Amersham, about 7.25 km away (  or phone 01494 729000).

There are a number of nearby places to visit for refreshments: Penn Street – The Squirrel (01494 711291) and The Hit or Miss (01494 713109); Winchmore Hill – The Plough (01494 259757) and The Potters Arms (01494 722641). Visit TripAdvisor for more information and other options.

Accommodation and tourist information
For Tourist information visit the Wycombe District Council website. Information on accommodation can also be found at TripAdvisor and StarStay.


Penn and Common Woods lie at the very heart of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close to the village of Penn Street, near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. Other villages close by include Holmer Green and Tylers Green, and the towns of Amersham and High Wycombe are 6.5km and 8km (four and five miles) away.

OS Explorer 172, Landranger 165, SU914959


By bus
Buses regularly stop at the bus stop near Mop End on the A404 at Penn Street on route between High Wycombe and Chesham. Occasional buses stop near the Squirrel public house in Penn Street village.

By train
The nearest train stations are at Beaconsfield (4.8km/three miles), Amersham (6.4 km/four miles) and High Wycombe (8 km/five miles).For further information about public transport, contact traveline or phone 0871 200 2233.

By car
From junction 4 of the M40 turn north on the A404 into High Wycombe and remain on the A404 through the town, following signs for Amersham and Hazlemere. The A404 passes through Hazlemere and climbs a hill. At the top of the hill go past the first right, signposted for Penn Bottom, and take the next right 2km further on, signposted for Penn Street.

There are numerous places to park in the village, but the best place is the main car park next to Holy Trinity Church which has a shared use with the church.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.