Greyfield Wood is situated at the west end of Beenham Village. The lease for the wood was purchased in 1995 by the Beenham Investment Group. The company is currently owned by 42 shareholders, most of whom live in the village.
Greyfield Wood covers 38 acres and is a mix of ancient woodland and commercial trees. It offers a large and varied habitat for a wide range of animals, birds and butterflies. 37 species of birds and at least 14 species of butterflies have been seen in the wood. Our woodland is managed by volunteers and villagers are encouraged to use this lovely amenity at every opportunity.
There is a stream to “puddle” around in, well-trodden paths through the heart of the wood and every likelihood of seeing deer, grey squirrels and recent activity by badgers. The plants on display vary with the season – bluebells, wild orchids, ferns, brambles and holly in the winter.
Walkers, joggers and responsible dog walkers are very welcome. There is, however, no bridleway through Greyfield Wood. Also, please note that there are no parking spaces near the wood.
Click here for a handy downloadable PDF guide and map to Greyfield Wood.
August 2020: We are working on exciting plans that would maintain our stewardship of Greyfield Wood into the next century. We will also be seeking wider involvement of local residents in managing and maintaining this amenity for the benefit of all.
The wood contains a mix of two conifer plantations (Norway spruce and Corsican pine) and broadleaf trees. The conifer plantations are now mature and are gradually being harvested commercially to be replaced by broadleaf species. All the felling and clearing is managed through a Management Plan which has been agreed by the Forestry Commission.
There are many examples of sweet chestnut, oak, robel beech, alder and many other species. A tree diversity program is encouraged as mitigation against disease which hits standing trees. The major concern at present is ash die-back which is damaging so many of our glorious ash trees.
Coppicing is now being reintroduced for both hazel and sweet chestnut. Sweet chestnut was traditionally used for fence posts and some of the fencing around St Mary’s church in the village comes from Greyfield Wood. Hazel is just great for supporting your climbing beans, peas or perennials in your garden. The planted mountain ash/rowan in the wide ride has mases of bright orange berries until later in the year when the local and migrating birds from further north feed on them.
Nearer the ground
There are numerous plants which indicate that Greyfield Wood is an ancient woodland. Brambles and ferns thrive in the wood and considerable effort is made to clear the paths and ‘rides’ (wide bendy paths, maybe three meters wide which run throughout the wood) so that walkers can enjoy the ambience of the environment. Some timber will be left rotting on the ground to encourage beetles and fungi; occasional piles of branches give small mammals cover from predators, as do the ‘dead hedges’. Brambles in flower attract many different butterflies and provide berries as food for wildlife in autumn.
The ground covering is being managed providing warm light sheltered glades so that flowering plants are encouraged. The area along the stream is rich in flowers while bluebells, primroses, violets, celandines, wood anemones and stitchwort, abound throughout the broadleaf parts of the wood in the Springtime. The foxgloves filling the glades later and then the fragrant honeysuckle climbs over any low bush or tree.
The more open areas of the wood promote flowers, butterflies and moths; the light can get through to the ground much better now that the conifers are being replaced allowing regeneration from the seed bank. White admiral and fritillary butterflies have been seen, now that the habitat has been improved, as have the eggs of the drab Luther moth. The eco system has been steadily improving as the woodland management plan is being carried out. There are wild raspberries and wild strawberry plants but can you find them?
Look for the roe deer, muntjacs and foxes in the wood although they can be hard to spot but you can follow the deer slot prints where they cross the stream. Badger sets are obvious from the quantities of earth spread around them. They emerge at sunset but you must wait down wind and be as quiet as mice not to frighten them. Nesting boxes for various birds have been introduced sometimes even used by bumble bees, and look out for the ‘bug hotels’ to encourage beetles. Grey squirrels are abundant and make good chasing for the more energetic dogs who enjoy regular exercise in the wood with their owners. In the autumn the squirrels hide sweet chestnuts which are abundant, for their winter larder. The hazel nuts are also eaten by the tiny secretive dormouse.
Annual Open Day
There is an Open Day in the spring with the opportunity to join guided walks and to see woodland craft demonstrations. Children are welcome and have their own activities to enjoy. Tea and cakes are also made available. However, the main focus is for everyone to come and enjoy the ever-changing aspects in the wood itself. Please come and see for yourself.
Volunteering to help
A local volunteer group meets most months during the year on a Saturday. The volunteers carry out light work, sometimes in the sunshine and sometimes in the rain! Much of this work is to plant and then look after new saplings, or to build up the ‘dead hedges’ which are so valuable in supporting the small mammal and insect life in the wood.
Other volunteer groups from outside the village also offer their help on a regular basis and are most welcome.
For more information on how you can enjoy this rural woodland, or if you are interested helping us protect our woodlands for future generations, please email us at email@example.com