Where we are now

click photo to zoom    /    H5 alternate

Yellow = Boundary
White = Footpath from Braunston
Blue = Bridleway

The pale blue bridleway crosses the wood near the south-east border. This is part of an ancient Green Lane joining Braunston with Launde to the south. As the brideway enters Hebe’s Wood from the north, the picture shows it going through a tree-lined path (still known as Wood Lane) before opening out into the field. Just before the bridleway leaves the Wood at the south edge it passes one of the four ponds (you can’t see any of these from above as they are covered by a tree canopy.)

The white footpath also comes up from Braunston across the fields. It allows the walker to see all the fields, the plantation and one of the ponds. It enters the wood across a narrow footbridge, through the eastern field, and enters the plantation for a while. It crosses the other two fields and skirts a pond just before leaving the wood.

What a picture!

The photo shows the three very different parts of Hebe’s Wood:

  1. Bushy Wood. This is in the middle of the dark green area on the north-west side of the picture. It is a .7 hectare fragment of ancient semi-natural woodland and has been traditionally managed as coppice, but this regime ceased probably in the 19th century. The woodlands have developed into high forest
  2. Plantation. Surrounding Bushy Wood, with the footpath crossing the south-east corner, 3.7ha was planted in 1994 as a native broad leaf plantation
  3. 3 Fields. 12.1ha was agricultural land comprising 3 fields, two of which were pasture land and the largest, most easterly one, was cultivated. They have now been left untouched for at least the last 10 years and are reverting to natural woodland.

Hebe’s Wood is surrounded by species-rich hedges. The hedge on the north side is of particular interest as it marks the ancient boundary between the parish of Braunston and Leighfield Forest.

Hebe’s Wood has moved on

It would be great to have a current picture of the wood from the same position. It would show a different place. The plantation has grown considerably and the canopy has now closed up. From on high you might not be able to see the difference between the plantation and Bushy Wood. In fact Bushy Wood might appear a little less closed as we have recently removed the non-native sycamore trees which were beginning to change the character of the wood.

And surely you would see how the fields are now being colonized from the hedgerows and Bushy Wood. We are told that in the late 1990s the last cultivation on the eastern field to occur was mole ploughing (a deep, single-bladed plough typically used on wet ground to help with drainage). The conjecture is that Jays found the result to be a perfect environment to hide acorns which may explain the many oaks in this field. Another notable feature are the number of volunteer (self-sown) ash trees, especially in and around Bushy Wood.

We should also be able to see the intended “rides” that we have mown through the emerging woodland. (A path or track becomes a ride at the point when it is wide enough for there to be a gap in the canopy above the ride which allows sunlight to reach the ground). They should encourage a larger range of species and are very important to achieving our long-term aims for the wood. Many species make regular use of the edge habitats of woods for feeding due to higher herb layer productivity and larger invertebrate populations. A greater number of species inhabit the first 10 metres of any woodland edge or ride edge than inhabit the remainder of the woodland. These rides are now permissive footpaths across the 3 fields allowing walkers greater access to the wood. “Ride” is an unfortunate name, as the last thing we want is for people on horse-back or bicycles to be using these paths. See www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/ewgs-on011-ride-mangt.pdf/$FILE/ewgs-on011-ride-mangt.pdf for more details.


  1. "Post a comment" was very small. Initially I clicked on a picture of a handsome, laid back man and found out all sorts of things, a bit distracting! Maybe we can meet today and walk through the excellent progress you have made.

  2. Comment boxes should be large white boxes now..

    I'll look into removing the photos for commenters.