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Four woods at Heartwood Forest

All of the woods which make up Heartwood Forest have been designated County Wildlife Sites.

Most of the woodland shows signs of having once being managed, although an area on the south side, beside Well Wood, is quite open with a few old trees including planted non-native trees and shrubs, and is not shown as woodland on the 1st Edition OS survey.

All have a history of high-canopy coppiced hornbeam among occasional scattered oak, ash, common lime, field maple and wild cherry. However, coppicing has not been undertaken for several decades in the woods apart from a small area in Langley Wood which was last coppiced around 1999.

Langley Wood

Langley Wood is a small but magnificent piece of ancient woodland, the jewel in Heartwood's crown. Traditionally comprising oak standards with hornbeam coppice, there are some beautiful old gnarled coppice stumps and a row of old coppiced limes along the path on the south-west side. Numerous plant species associated with ancient woodland have been recorded, including yellow archangel, dog’s mercury, pignut, dog violet and hairy brome. However, the wood anemones and bluebells are the real show-stoppers in the spring.

Pismire Spring

Pismire Spring is primarily oak/hornbeam woodland with a high canopy, dominated by old coppiced hornbeam and scattered oak standards, with a few old cherry and large ash. Ground flora includes bluebell, yellow archangel, pignut, primrose and celandine. Understorey comprises hawthorn, elder, hazel, holly and a small amount of deadwood. On the southern fringe is a small steep-sided quarry dotted with elder, traveller’s joy and dog’s mercury.

Well and Pudler’s Wood

Another piece of ancient semi-natural woodland, known as Well and Pudler's Wood, is dominated by over mature coppiced hornbeam, with occasional oak, ash, lime and field maple. It has a more natural, unmanaged, feel to it than Langley Wood. Over a dozen species commonly associated with ancient woodland have been recorded, including wood anemone, bluebell, enchanter’s nightshade, figwort, three-nerved sandwort and broad buckler fern.

There are some tremendous ancient trees in the wood, with large girths, the most notable being a lime with a girth of 7.60m. Others include an ash (5.15m), field maple (4.5m), and hornbeam (5.24m). There is also a strip of young elms along the eastern margin, complementing re-generating elm in the mature hedge. The mixed understorey of elder, hawthorn, regenerated ash and bramble also contains an excellent amount of standing and fallen deadwood habitats. The wood is also littered with interesting archaeological features including an intact wood bank, numerous old mounds, banks, ridges, depressions and sunken paths or channels.

A wildlife site survey of Well and Pudler’s Wood in May 2010 confirmed it to be an ancient woodland site of county importance. The definition of an ancient woodland site is one which has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 as semi-natural, secondary or plantation woodland. Pudler’s Wood could be much older than that as suggested by the size and age of some of its trees, some probably many centuries old.

Round Wood

Round Wood is the smallest block of ancient semi-natural woodland. It is primarily oak standards with a fairly mature hornbeam coppice understorey (perhaps last coppiced 20 years ago) along with the odd cherry, ash and birch. The bluebells are tremendous in spring. Most of the oldest trees are in the northern half of the wood, with hornbeams distributed fairly evenly throughout, almost in rows, running east-west down the slope; while spectacular old coppiced common limes are randomly situated in the eastern part of the wood. It’s been suggested that some hornbeams could be up to 1000 years old and the limes could be naturally occurring hybrids. The proportion of large trees is lower than in Pudler’s Wood and only 20 were recorded and tagged, including limes, hornbeam, ash, oak and cherry.

Some extensive areas of species-rich hedgerow, located alongside the minor road up from Sandridge, grow alongside ground flora whose diversity indicates the antiquity of these hedgerows which may have originally been derived from woodland.