A small but botanically rich ancient woodland, with a variety of plants typical of long-established woods, including herb paris and a number of orchids.
Ancient and secondary woodland
Local Wildlife Site, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Facilities available at this site
About the Site
A walk through this site demonstrates why ancient woodland is so special. Characteristic plants such as herb paris and wood anemone grow in the undisturbed western part, but the eastern part, which seems to have been cleared and cultivated in the not too distant past, is lacking them, even though the trees have come back.
Some ancient woodland plants may take centuries to come back into the woodland disturbed by cultivation, because they spread very slowly, and a few may never return at all! The same problem occurs in newly planted woodlands – you can plant all the right trees, but the plants will arrive very slowly or not at all. This means it is all but impossible to recreate ancient woodlands, which is why they must be so carefully conserved: once lost they are lost for good.
As well as rich flora (around 110 woodland plant species!) the site is good for birds, including nightingale, mammals, including dormouse and reptiles, including adder. Dark and speckled bush crickets are two of the many rare invertebrates recorded here.
A splendid beech and hornbeam avenue that used to stand in the heart of the wood was damaged in the 1987 storm.
From the B2068 Stone Street, the site entrance is signed on Waltham Road, between Waltham and Petham.
Route number 602 passes through the nearby villages of Waltham and Petham
Transport Links to this site
Earley Wood Photo Gallery
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