Size:

259.69 ha (641.69 acres)

Grid reference:

TQ209567

Map reference:

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OS Landranger NULL

The largest of our four First World War Centenary Woods, Langley Vale Wood has pockets of ancient woodland, diverse and fascinating wildlife and flora, and stunning views over the rolling hills of the North Downs. In the coming years, our ambitious woodland creation scheme will transform the existing arable land into both a natural haven and a living memorial to those who sacrificed so much in the First World War.

 

Features

  • Public access
  • Autumn colour
  • Spring flowers
  • Grassland
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Langley Vale Wood

At 259 hectares (641 acres), Langley Vale Wood is the largest of our four centenary woods, one in each country of the UK.

It lies just south of the village of Langley Vale in Surrey and 3.2km (2 miles) south of Epsom. The M25 motorway runs along the southern boundary.

There is currently no parking on site. We recommend visitors use parking available around Epsom Downs. Please be considerate to our neighbours by not parking on private roads or blocking access.

There is currently no car park at Langley Vale Wood. The nearest public parking is located on the Epsom Downs at Hut and Tattenham Crescent Car Parks on Tattenham Corner Road, and Viewpoint Car Park on Grandstand Road. Please be considerate to our neighbours by not parking on private roads or blocking access.

To access Langley Vale Wood from Epsom Downs, please follow the route/s on the map provided. Although there are a number of public footpaths and public bridleways crossing the Downs, we ask our visitors to follow our recommended route and be mindful that these areas of Epsom Downs are frequently used to exercise racehorses. Racing is synonymous with Epsom and the welfare of their racehorses and riders, and our visitors, is paramount; please help by reading and following the Epsom Downs Code of Conduct for visitors.

Download the map.

The nearest stations are in Ashtead, 3.2km (2 miles) away, Tattenham Corner, 3.7km (2.3 miles) away, and Epsom, 4.2km (2.5 miles) away.

Visit National Rail for more information.

Services run from Epsom station. The nearest bus stops to Langley Vale Wood are Downs Road on Headley Road, and Grosvenor Road in Langley Vale village.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

Access is by public rights of way from Epsom Downs, Tadworth or Walton on the Hill. If walking on Epsom Downs, be aware that racehorse training is carried out there every morning until midday.

Langley Vale Wood has two bridle paths running through the site and one small stretch of public footpath. It is bordered by public bridle paths to the north, east and west with a wide network of paths to the north on Epsom Downs.

Site entrances to the north of Langley Vale Wood are accessed via public bridleways BW127, BW33 and BW138 from the Epsom and Walton Downs.

Site entrances to the south are accessed via Hurst Road and BW127, and entry points to the west are via BW33 and Ebersham Lane, Walton on The Hill.

Currently, paths within the site are mainly farm tracks. However, there are plans to create 20km (12 miles) of paths through the site, including 4km (2.5 miles) of hard surface footpaths and 3km (1.9 miles) of multi-user paths for horses and bikes.

There is no car park at Langley Vale Wood at present. Currently we ask that you do not drive to this site. Please drive to Epsom Downs and use the maps provided above.

The nearest public toilets are in Ashtead on Woodfield Lane (KT21 1AT).

Wildlife and habitats

Wildlife

The mixed habitats at Langley Vale Wood are a haven for local wildlife. Look out for signs of badgers, and keep your eyes peeled at dusk when you might spot one of the five species of bat recorded at the site.

Enjoy the chorus of birdsong – 59 species have been recorded at the wood including many which are on the Red List of species at risk, such as the cuckoo and skylark.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

The site’s existing woods are largely ancient semi-natural woodland. The three biggest - Great Hurst Wood, Little Hurst Wood and Downs View Wood - are designated Sites of Nature Conservation Importance. In total, 380 species have been recorded in Langley Vale Wood, including 37 ancient woodland indicators.

Great Hurst Wood, on the southern edge, is ancient woodland with ash, oak, beech, and sweet chestnut, and has an excellent bluebell display in spring. Little Hurst Wood and Downs View Wood are mainly ancient woodland with a similar composition to Great Hurst Wood.

Round Wood is mainly hazel coppice and elder with a rich ground flora, including early purple orchids which grow by the paths. Gillettes Wood is mainly ash, cherry and oak.

Look out for:

Habitats

The mix of ancient woodland, grassland and woodland creation at Langley Vale Wood supports a vast range of locally and nationally rare flora and fauna. The woodland is part of the North Downs National Character Area (NCA), a chain of chalk hills across the south-east. Chalk grassland is a notable feature of this landscape and is of ecological importance due to its ability to support rare species.

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About Langley Vale Wood

History

There is evidence of early human habitation in the woodlands and fields making up the site of Langley Vale Wood. A first-century BC tin coin was found in a field near Round Wood, and third and fourth-century Roman coins have also been found in and around the site. There are several Saxon cemeteries dating from the sixth to eighth centuries in the area.

There has been a farm at Langley Vale since the early thirteenth century. It’s likely that the small farming settlement was destroyed by the Black Death in the fourteenth century as it disappeared from records around this time.

Later maps show that part of the site was used as arable land from the mid-eighteenth century and there are also several woods shown: Great Hurst, Little Hurst, and Round Coppice. By the early 1800s, the farm had become part of the Ashtead Park Estate, although it was sold off in 1880.

During the First World War, the Walton and Tadworth end of the site was used for army training and there were trenches, a rifle range, a gas training school and a camp. A timber flag pole from the gas training school is still standing in Round Wood, which was known locally as Gas School Wood.

Credit: Ben Lee / WTML

First World War Centenary Wood

The Woodland Trust purchased the land for Langley Vale Wood in 2014 as the First World War centenary project site for England. We have planted around 180,000 trees on site, many of these with help from the local community. Approximately 100 hectares of the site will be woodland creation. We’re also managing 100 hectares of the site (40%) as open space, as the site has important chalk grassland and arable habitats and supports many rare and notable arable plants, including ground pine, red hemp-nettle and night-flowering catchfly.

Artwork on site, commissioned as part of this project, commemorates those who sacrificed so much during the First World War. In particular, it focuses on unveiling the local stories and history of the landscape.

The Regiment of Trees (2017-2019)

Carved by Patrick Walls from Hill House Edge sandstone, The Regiment of Trees commemorates Lord Kitchener’s inspection of troops – all from the 2nd London Division of Kitchener’s New Army – on Epsom Downs in January 2015. Twelve figures stand among a mix of native broadleaf trees, evoking stories of the harsh blizzard conditions in which the 20,000 volunteer soldiers waited for Kitchener’s arrival, some not even fully kitted out. Together, the sculptures and trees create a living tribute to the civilian men who answered the call to join Kitchener’s New Army.

Witness (2016-2021)

Measuring approximately six metres tall and four metres in diameter, and carved with words taken from seven poets of the period, this First World War memorial feature creates a space for contemplation. Constructed from around 35 pieces of oak, it weighs about the same as a fully-laden London double decker bus. Sculptor John Merrill describes how it was ‘originally inspired by the paintings of Paul Nash (the official war artist), the desolate landscapes and desecrated trees and his passion for the natural environment’.

Excerpts from the following poems are carved inside the sculpture:

Matthew Copse by John William Streets (1883-1916)
Lights Out by Edward Thomas (1878–1917)
Afterwards by Margaret Postgate Cole (1893–1980)
May, 1915 by Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)
The Gift of India by Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)
Futility by Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)
Grodec by Georg Trakl (1887-1914)

>>John Merril, sculptor: The site where the sculpture is going is a new memorial woodland, which is presently being planted by the Woodland Trust on the Epsom Downs, and the thing that struck me about the site was how little woodland is there at present.  

So, my initial sort of response was to create a woodland and there seems to be this really strong connection at that point between the memorial woodland being a sort of 14-18 war memorial to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and the paintings of Paul Nash, the official war artist of both the First and Second World Wars.  

So, there was this really strong relationship between the war, the landscape and these paintings of woodlands by Paul Nash and the trees which you know he painted obviously were part of these devastating landscapes. 

It's essentially an enclosure of trees that'll be 5 to 6 metres tall and 4 metres in diameter. It consists of essentially sort of nine uprights which interconnect at various stages as it goes up to give it a sort of structural integrity. The big pieces will form the lower section of the sculpture and then where they fork and branch, we’ll use those forks and those branches to create some connection points to join the piece together as it goes up.  

There's probably about 40-odd tonnes in the yard at the minute. We think that in a raw state there'll be about 36 tonnes goes into the model and once that’s shaped back down, we're looking at an estimated weight of around about 20 to 24 tonnes completed. So, it just gives you some idea of the physical logistics of managing this amount of material. 

Like all pieces of sculpture hopefully, you think it starts to chew in thoughts as to what is it, why is it here, what's it for and all those reasons and will hopefully instill a thought or a memory of what has gone on and give people a space to sit and contemplate and think about you know, the atrocity of war. 

Support us

Your support matters

We were able to plant trees here thanks to your response to an important appeal. Discover how you helped us create another incredible place for people and wildlife, and what the future holds for this new wood. 

See what we've achieved

Things to do at Langley Vale Wood

Walks

Explore more than 2.5 miles of trails on your own adventure in Langley Vale Wood, not forgetting to stop off at the picnic tables in the orchard for a well-earned rest. Download the walking map.

Sculptures 

Take in the history of the site and enjoy the beauty of the sculptures here, made to commemorate the those who sacrificed so much in the First World War.

Early purple orchid with blurred background

A lasting legacy

This wood is just one of many to have been protected by gifts in wills, securing it for generations to come. Your legacy gift could also make a real difference to woods, trees and wildlife.

Learn what your gift could mean

Download

Langley Vale Wood Management Plan

PDF  (186 KB)