As you start to wander through the reserve, you will begin to orientate yourself – there are old tracks and banks separating woodland compartments and heavily incised streams full of bryophytes that fracture and divide the site – old fallen giants are found everywhere, many of these brought down by the Great Storm of 1987 and now home to important populations of saproxylic invertebrates, fungi (almost 600 species found so far) and bats. Trees are almost always left as they have fallen and the amazing structure this creates adds to the wild feel.
There are great towering cathedrals of beech, their high canopy filtering bright green light to the forest floor in the spring sunshine. Elsewhere oaks of many different shapes and sizes form a more intimate atmosphere with typical ancient woodland trees such as wild service, midland hawthorn and spindle. There are many ancient woodland indicator species such as yellow archangel, violet helleborine and opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage but you have to search hard amongst the fallen and collapsing trees and recent growth of holly to find them.
There are several important meadows at the margins of the woods and a footpath will take you to the beautiful Badlands Meadow – mown and grazed by us for many years. Here you can find zigzag clover, Dyer’s greenweed, common agrimony, devil’s-bit scabious and betony.
We have always maintained a policy of non-intervention in the main woodlands and continue to monitor changes in tree growth and development, species diversity, succession and the extent of deadwood.