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Celebrating the Ancient Broadleaf Woodlands of North Hampshire

It’s well known that walking quietly amongst trees and observing nature can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and well being in a natural way; in Japan they call this forest bathing or shinrin yoku.

We are fortunate to have some fabulous woods near Whitchurch, crisscrossed by Public Rights of Way and this is a perfect time of year to get out there, enjoy the peace, take in the autumn colours and celebrate our amazing trees.

Whitchurch WaW decided against organising a small guided walk, preferring to encourage as many local residents as possible to explore the three very different areas of woodland close to town with their own household bubbles. Children’s activity sheets were made available courtesy of the Woodland Trust and links provided to downloadable trail maps.

Bradley Woods is a small pocket of ancient broadleaf woodland found on a sheltered chalk slope in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding natural Beauty just 2 miles north of Whitchurch. The wood is predominantly made up of Beech, Birch, Oak, Ash and Hazel and is a particular favourite in the spring when the woodland floor is a carpet of bluebells.

A little to the SW of Whitchurch is Harewood Forest, the largest area of ancient natural woodland within Hampshire, after the New Forest; it provides an excellent woodland habitat for wildlife and is home to a large native deer population. A series of paths crisscross the forest including the Test Way long distance trail.

Blackwood Forest managed by Forestry England, offers a different experience. This mixed woodland of broadleaf and coniferous trees with its extensive trails, information boards and opportunities for den building and tree climbing makes this a particularly popular wood with children. Ash Dieback has been a particular problem in North Hampshire and you can see evidence of the clearance work being undertaken in the forest to manage this.

Remember, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Support National Tree Week and plant a tree near you.

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