LQ:ESSEX – West Wood Ho!
West Wood extends for 80 acres from the high ground of Daws heath to the valley of the Prittle Brook. For at least 200 years the wood belonged to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s Cathedral and was managed as a coppice woodland. The modern wood shows the influence not only of this traditional management but also of changing soil conditions. Sweet chestnut and birch are on high ground give way to oak and hornbeam down the slope with willow and poplar on the valley floor.
Coppicing is an ancient way of managing woods, where most trees in a selected area are felled. Traditionally, 12 oaks are left in each acre to grow to mature timber trees. New shoots soon grow from the cut stumps, which are known as stools. After 10–20 years the new growth can be cut down again to provide straight poles. In the past coppicing was repeated each year in a different area of wood to provide a continuous supply of wood.
An actively coppiced woodland had growth of different ages, ranging from bare ground immediately after coppicing to dense thicket. This variety supports a rich wildlife. Many flowers bloom in open clearings after coppicing but are shaded out as the coppice regrows. The dense thickets which develop after 5-10 years provide nesting sites for birds. Once coppice management stops, the wildlife in a wood usually declines
Estate records from the eighteenth century describes in detail how West Wood was managed. This Wood may have been managed as a coppice since Saxon times. Coppicing has been restarted in the north of the wood to encourage the wild life and to provide valuable timber.
N51 33.612 E0 36.025 are the coordinates for the entrance of West Wood. Cars can be parked in Windsor Gardens opposite the entrance.
You’re looking for a Micro. The Gps signal is not good in this area, you may need the spoiler picture. Please bring your own pen.