Waresley and Gransden Woods
Gransden and Waresley Woods are adjoining ancient oak-ash woods. The Wildlife Trust has purchased the reserve in sections since 1976 and now owns all but one area in the north.
The woods are home to many breeding birds. In summer the rides and glades are filled with wildflowers and insects that feed on their nectar, including butterflies such as the speckled wood. Over 500 species of moth and butterfly have been recorded here. In the first half of the 20th century the wood was harvested for timber. It was replanted with oaks and sycamores, creating areas that are very different from the undisturbed broadleaf woodland and traditional coppice plots.
There are also more open, grassy areas where heavy horses may have been rested during timber extraction. In spring the woodland floor becomes a carpet of bluebells, violets and oxlips, whose blooms fill the air with scent. You can try to spot the differences between oxlips and the primroses, which favour the drier greensand of the valley. The stream marks the boundary between the two woods, and is spanned by several small bridges.
The woods were originally much larger; we have begun to buy adjacent land to convert back to woodland and help halt this habitat’s decline (Cambridgeshire is the least wooded county in England). The first stage in this process was the acquisition in 2002 of the field to the right of the access track, now named Brownes' Piece in honour of Mr and Mrs Browne whose legacy enabled the purchase. Together with Gamlingay Wood and Sugley Wood (less than half a mile away) this site is part of the Wildlife Trust’s plans for a huge South Cambridgeshire Forest.
Over the next 200 years, Brownes' Piece will be encouraged to regenerate using natural processes, something that has already started. Nature, with a helping hand from visitors and local schoolchildren will gradually change the meadow into woodland. It is very important that only local seed from Waresley and Gransden Woods finds its way on to the new area so that we preserve local character and interest.
Open all the time
Open all year
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VenueWaresley and Gransden Woods
Waresley, St Neots, Cambridgeshire, SG19 3
Map reference: TL 261549 Lat: 52.17848 Long: -0.15717
Take the A1, then the B1040 to Waresley.