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More about Heartwood Forest

Heartwood is a Woodland Trust project, started in 2009, to convert the farmland at the former Hill End Farm, north of Sandridge, near St Albans into deciduous woodland.

The 347-hectare (858-acre) site rises in splendour from what was once mainly agricultural land. It’s so big that when fully planted it will be the largest continuous native forest in England; a place where everyone can find space, peace, wildlife and miles of beautiful woodland to explore.

Community planting

Thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers, 500,000 trees have already been planted and local people have taken this new landscape to their hearts. There are still another 100,000 trees to plant over the next few years.

Existing woodland

There’s not just new woodland on the site, but precious pockets of ancient bluebell woodland, old hedgerows, wildflower meadows, wonderful bird life and open grassland. Imagine the dazzling spectacle of field after field ablaze with flowers in rich shades of blue, yellow, red, pink, purple and white, stretching as far as the eye can see. Come and check them out around May to August.

Community orchard and arboretum

We’ve already started to plant a community orchard containing many varieties of fruit tree, including apple, pear, cherry plum, medlar, apricot and quince. One of the latest additions to the site is the arboretum which, once completed will be the only one known in the UK to contain all 57 of our native tree species. Keep an eye on our website for news on that and other exciting plans for Heartwood.

Monitoring

Volunteers from Hertfordshire Natural History Society and the Woodland Trust are monitoring populations of plants and wildlife during the changes to the site and so far have recorded 87 species of bird and 27 species of butterfly. Look out for nest boxes around the site which have been designed to encourage barn owls, tawny owls and kestrels.

Exploring the woods

A network of paths, including a public footpath and two bridleways, runs in and around the forest, as well as through the existing ancient woodlands.

Explore the site by bike, horse or on foot, or come along to one of our tree-planting days to play your own part in the wood's creation. It’s a fabulous place to explore, and will just keep on getting better. You can visit at any time and what’s more, it’s free!