IYOF2:Ancient woodlands of Great Britian

As 2011 is officially International Year of Forests, this is the next in a series of articles about trees, and more specifically big groups of them.
There are actually quite a few left:  ancient woodland describes woods which have existed continuously since 1600 in England and Wales (1750 in Scotland).  Ancient woodland is formally defined by Natural England (their maps section is well worth a  look) and equivalent bodies. Many ancient woodlands have legal protection of various types, but it is not automatically the case that any ancient woodland is protected.  There’s not any in Derbyshire, but there are ancient woods nearly at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire and Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.

List of Ancient Woodlands within England:

Just to confuse matters, there are two types of ancient woodland, ancient semi-natural woodland and planted ancient woodland.  You’ve probably seen examples of both in your travels.  So: question time, if you’ve been to any of the above, where did you travel to and what did you think?  Did your attitude change to the landscape around you because you knew it was ancient woodland?  Do you have any spirit experiences there, or did you feel the presence of the trees more deeply than you would usually?  What do you think about the sites forestry management policies/ did you see anyone actively managing the forest landscape during your visit?  Do you think that ancient woodland should be automatically legally protected?


5 thoughts on “IYOF2:Ancient woodlands of Great Britian

  1. I have walked in Cannock Chase, Forest of Dean, New Forest, Sherwood Forest and Wyre Forest.
    My experiences in all of them was how lovely nature is and what a shame people leave their litter there.
    Sherwood I found to be rather commercialised, I suppose the Robin Hood connection makes this innevitable as it is a great tourist attraction. The New Forest with its scattered villages I found the most natural in the sense that it gave a feeling of how the UK might have been before modern civilization took over and started cutting down all the trees. Cannock Chase and the Forest of Dean I found to be most inspiring in a spiritual sense. The vastness and the wild life made me feel insignificant. The Wyre Forest was the most managed of my experiences although all of them were obviously well cared for. I think we definitely need to preserve these last strongholds of our ancient forests, but its a shame people need to be reminded about fire and litter, discrete sign posts to help wayfarers find their way through the maze of paths in these large areas are of course necessary, as are route maps for those of us not up to marathon walks.
    I was not conscious of forestry work taking place while I was in any of the places I have visited, but it was obvious that active management did happen, and yes, I think these places need to be legally protected if only to leave an historical record for future generations of how we lived in more natural times.

  2. Hail and smiles to all you Chesterfield Pagans:

    This is a very interesting post. And I liked your comments, Newbold Witch. I have only been to Sherwood Forest back in 1993 and I agree with you: it is rather commercialised, but nontheless beautiful. Since we went there with my (then) three years old nephew, I can´t remember having a quiet moment there. 🙂

    Maybe one day we will manage to see Europe again… although we might get a bad conscience because of the carbon emissions of the plane. At least there it seems more secure to stroll through Nature than it is over here right now.

    Best wishes to you all. And enjoy your forests.


  3. Hi Claudia,
    I’m pleased that you came to Sherwood Forest, was it the Robin Hood legend you were looking at? Did you see the Major Oak? The legend says that Robin Hood hid inside it, but the truth is probably that he never did for reasons I won’t go into now.
    I understand about the carbon footprint, but if you do come to the UK again, please try and visit us in Chesterfield.
    Bright Blessings to you and your family.

  4. I love this piece guys….I do hope the joy of been able to walk through forests and woods will long continue. This government is trying very hard to sell off our forests. If we become apathetic we will end up losing ours the way the Irish are losing theirs. If it weren’t for the campaign that Hands Off Our Forests instigated for the Forest of Dean we may well have lost a huge portion. Could you link this site to here too, to spread the word as it were…
    http://www.handsoffourforest.org/ Gladly unlike the Irish we don’t have a previous Taoiseach chairing the company who wants to buy the forests. Well so far as I am aware….but who knows,,,,

  5. Good post ginger
    …Its not big but…..between (betwixt!) Chesterfield and Sheffield north east of Dronfield, Moss Valley Wood is classified as ancient woodland and sssi (site of special scientific significance). I just stumbled upon it after walking home from a rave one night, so a spiritual experience was not unexpected!
    There is a few remnants of ancient woodland round there, the biodiversity is huge, but not well know.
    Also Grisdale in the lake district is well worth a visit, subtle sculptures dot the forest.
    There’s loads of beautiful woodland around Chesterfield (but not enough).

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