10 forests and woodlands in Somerset that you should visit
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 March 2020
Forests are the lifeblood of the planet, fact. To mark International Day of Forests this month, Holly Louise Eells shares some of our top wooded spots to visit
Forestry England manages and cares for the nation's 1,500 woods and forests, including the Blackdown Hills. It boasts an impressive collection of forests located across the Somerset-Devon border. Breathtaking panoramic views, miles of forested walk-ways, ancient monuments, varied habitats and spectacular wildlife, it does not come as a surprise it has been characterised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'
Predominantly beech and oak, the mature woodland of Somerset Wildlife Trust's Dom-mett Wood has some impressively large and ancient trees to show off and it is also the site of one of the Trust's largest replanting projects too. For example, did you know in 2005, 2.5 hectares of wildlife-unfriendly conifers were felled and replaced with native broadleaved species?
St Audries (Deerpark)
If you are looking for a hidden gem, visit St Audries. The small woodland is managed sustainably for timber, but a side effect of the work is that recently cleared forest areas attract the elusive nightjar.
In contrast to its 19th century mining heritage, this Forestry England woodland is now managed for wildlife alongside its timber operations. Through careful forest planning, there are now areas to encourage butterflies and moths, great crested newts, many birds, and im-pressive dragonflies.
Aller & Beer Woods
Creating a breeding ground for green and great spotted woodpeckers is just a snippet of the positive work Somerset Wildlife Trust does. A new project, has enabled it to provide better access for people by creating a new permissive foot-path through the wood, made possible through the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.
With 30 nature reserves, Avon Wildlife Trust is committed to enabling wildlife to survive and thrive, including within its magical woodland Goblin Combe, which is the perfect habitat for wonderful creatures. It is a site which has contrasting areas, from the airy grasslands to a dark, dense rich woodland. Expect stunning views across Mendip and many opportunities to spot a butterfly or two.
As well as England's tallest tree (1876), Nutcombe Bottom is also home to a brand-new tree planted by local children to mark 100 years of forestry in 2019.
This ancient woodland has an all year-round interest with the numerous old trees providing the perfect nest sites for birds such as Great and Blue Tits. Two hundred and thirty-seven species of fungi have been recorded at the reserve including the Dotted Fanvault, Butter Wax-cap and the Snowy Waxcap.
Slightly out of the county, Leigh Woods is known for its iconic sights and fantastic habitat surroundings. This National Trust treasure is a wilderness of tranquility set against Brunel's famous suspension bridge. The two-square-kilometre area of woodland offers spectacular views across Bristol, ancient and veteran trees homing an abundance of wildlife, which showcases the positive benefits that forests and woodlands bring.
Stockhill is part of the three plantations that is involved with the Forestry Commission estate on the Mendip Hills consisting of an impressive 484 hectares of woodland. Alongside Rowberrow Warren and East Harptree, all perch on the Mendip plateau 100-300m above sea level. All of these woodlands lie within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.