93.09 ha (230.03 acres)

Grid reference:


Map reference:

Explorer 272
OS Landranger 121

As the name suggests, this beautiful wood is old. In fact, it’s ancient woodland with a fascinating history and was once a haunt of the Vikings. Brimming with diverse flora and fauna and with an extensive network of trails that are perfect for walking, cycling or horse riding, Old Wood has something for everyone to enjoy.


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

How to get to Old Wood, Skellingthorpe

Old Wood is a 93-hectare (230-acre) woodland haven nestled in the village of Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire, only 4.8km (3 miles) from the outskirts of the historic city of Lincoln.

From Lincoln, follow Carholme Road (A57) for 2km (1.2 miles) to a roundabout, exiting onto the A46. On reaching the next roundabout after 2.8km (1.7 miles), take the fourth exit onto Lincoln Road, continuing for 1.5km (1 mile) to reach Skellingthorpe. Old Wood is 1.5km west of the village.

The nearest station is Lincoln, located in the city centre on Wigford Way (A57), approximately 8km (5 miles) from Skellingthorpe.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The nearest bus stop is located around 1.6km (1 mile) from the wood on Jerusalem Road, opposite the Co-op in Skellingthorpe.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

Entrances into Old Wood are via bridle gates – suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs – and stiles, although at some points of entry access may be limited. The eastern side of the wood is accessed via two public byways which join up with a bridleway and footpath running along the eastern edge of the site. Two more footpaths enter the woodland from the west, over adjacent farmland via a stile.

The wood has a 3km (2-mile) network of sandy, surfaced tracks suitable for all-weather use, together with a number of more natural, unmodified pathways and permissive bridle routes. These are well defined within the wood and are dry enough to allow access throughout the site for most of the year. The land is fairly flat on the better-surfaced routes.

The site can also be directly accessed from the SUSTRANS National Cycle Network Route 64, which links to a cycle track from the car park at Skellingthorpe Community Centre. There is a spur off this track directly into the woodland where it joins the The Odin Trail, a family-friendly surfaced and waymarked cycle loop of around 1.6km (1 mile).

There is no onsite car park, but parking is available at Skellingthorpe Community Centre (LN6 5UT), a 30-minute walk from the wood.

The nearest toilets are located in Skellingthorpe Community Centre, 2.4km (1.5 miles) from the wood.

Wildlife and habitats


Keep a lookout for the red, roe and muntjac deer as they roam silently through the wood, or listen for bird song and the hammering of the great spotted woodpecker. Watchful eyes might just catch a glimpse of the agile hobby soaring through the skies in search of prey, or stick around until dusk for a sign of the tawny owl.

Old Wood is teeming with wildlife, including over 20 species of butterfly, eight species of dragonfly and more than 38 species of bird.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

With over 270 species of plant, including more than 30 ancient woodland indicator species, Old Wood is brimming with a rich variety of flora. Primarily broadleaved, the wood is made up of native oak, lime and hazel, although some conifers are also present.

Look out for:


Old Wood features a variety of habitats ideal for its diverse range of wildlife. While ancient and broadleaved woodland dominate the majority of the wood, conifers and wet woodland habitats can also be found.

We bought this wood in 1995 and have been restoring the site since. It used to be a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) but lost its designation in the 1950s.

History of Old Wood, Skellingthorpe

The first recorded mention of Old Wood was in the Domesday Book in 1086 when it was referred to as ‘The Lound’ from the Old Norse word ‘lundr’, meaning sacred grove.

A number of local farm names also originate from Old Norse, including Carr Farm which derives from ‘kjarr’ meaning forest, and Hagg Farm in which ‘hagg’ refers to an area of felled coppice. This, and the wet soils and limited use suggest the wood dates back to prehistoric times.

In the middle ages, the wood was enclosed by a ditch boundary and turned into a deer park. Fourteenth-century documents tell how ‘six knights from Retford’ broke down the fences to hunt deer. The park remained in use until the seventeenth century.

Dedication bench at Watkins Wood

Dedicate at this wood

This wood is one of more than 50 across the UK where it's possible to dedicate trees, benches or larger areas of woodland. Mark a special occasion or celebrate the life of a loved one with a meaningful gesture that lasts. 

Choose a dedication

Things to do in Old Wood, Skellingthorpe


With an abundance of waymarked trails on offer, Old Wood is a great place to enjoy a walk. Grab your walking boots and keep an eye out for the striking carved sculptures nestled among the trees as you explore. You can even round things off with a picnic at the picnic area in the centre of the wood!


Old Wood is a fantastic place to enjoy a bike-ride. Whether you bring your own bike along or hire one from the Skellingthorpe Community Centre car park, there are some great cycle-friendly routes in and around the wood, including the Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 64. So grab your bike and get peddling!

Horse riding

Saddle up and enjoy the extensive network of permissive and public paths and bridleways throughout the wood.
Please keep to the designated bridleways when riding your horse in the wood.

Download the Old Wood, Skellingthorpe leaflet.

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


Old Wood, Skellingthorpe Management Plan

PDF  (165 KB)