A walk on the wild side
There’s no better time to see wildflowers in full bloom than during the month of May – and our Haydon Way Wood walk is the best place in the Heart of England Forest to observe the spectacle.
Carefully waymarked the 1.5 mile Haydon Way Wood walk can be reached from the car park off Spernal Lane in the northernmost reaches of the Forest near Coughton. The walk begins with a bang and continues to present some wonderful surprises as it wends its way through some stunning Warwickshire countryside. Download a map of the walk and you’ll find not only the recommended route, but also a guide to some of the highlights you can look out for along the way.
A great start
Moments after parking and stepping out you’ll walk through a natural wildflower meadow and then into a meadow planted in 2014, with assistance from National Grid, to provide a counterpoint to their electricity pylons in the area. This meadow teems with wild plants and species found here include bird’s-foot trefoil, knapweed, yarrow, corn cockle and vetches – all ensuring it’s also a haven for the local insect populations.
Walking on, you’ll find yourself in the hazel coppice, a tightly spaced plantation of over 6,500 hazel saplings which will eventually be cut on a five to six year rotation. The coppice products will be used to make hurdles, and provide binders for hedge-laying or used as pea or bean sticks.
After a short climb, the walk takes you through a gap in the hedge and along the edge of the woodland for a hundred metres. A sharp left turn brings you down a slope before a panoramic vista opens up before you. On a clear day, the view is quite stunning and from here the dramatic scale of the Heart of England Forest stretches out in front of you towards Windmill Hill.
No stroll would be complete without some soothing water to pause beside. The walk passes a small natural pond – perfect for spotting dragonflies, frogs and toads – before briefly joining the public footpath along the winding River Arrow. Follow the river upstream and keep an eye out for a flash of blue as a kingfisher may be skimming the surface for a tasty meal, or a statuesque heron standing guard on the river. If you’re really lucky, you might even see signs that an otter has rested on the riverbank, although they’re notoriously difficult to spot!
Keeping the river on your right, your final marker is the venerable old Parish Boundary Oak. As its name suggests, the tree marks the boundary between two parishes and was originally at the river’s edge before the course of the waterway was altered, possibly to remove an oxbow lake.
If it could talk, the old oak would tell many tales, and when you’ve finished this wonderful wander you’ll have a few of your own, no doubt. Find more information here and don’t forget to send us details of what you see or any photos you take along the way via social media – we always love to hear from you.
Haydon Way Wood is one of our 5 waymarked walking routes. Click here to see our other woodland walks.