Originally called Horriford Wood, this is one of the oldest natural woods in existence in Britain, and is the 1000th Woodland Nature reserve. The woods and its surrounding area have been utilised by people for thousands of years. It lies to the North of, and partially surrounds, an Iron Age encampment known as Seaton Down Fort, where the remains of a bank and ditch can be seen.
Although some of the pine trees have been taken out...to allow for natural growth and extension of the deciduous trees...the woodland has been left to continue naturally, with no other planting by human means. Piles of logs from the felled pine trees have been left to provide a necessary habitat for insects and other small creatures; a source of food for woodland birds, such as Woodpeckers. Dead trees and fallen branches have been left for the same purpose, and also to provide a place of study of the natural evolution of woodlands.
This visit was in May 2010 when the woods were wall to wall with bluebells. Sadly, the photos haven't picked them out very well. It is such a lovely place for a wander even so. Very tangly and very old.
In the centre of the woods is an old reservoir, which is now private and used as a fishing pond. It was difficult to see through the tangly trees, and the glimpse I caught of it was covered in pond weeds. I did see a wader type of bird picking its way across the weeds, but it was too far away to identify it. It may have been a curlew.
On the eastern edge of the woods is Horriford Farm. The oldest parts date back to 1480, containing mullion windows, Elizabethan fireplace and an oak screen. To the left of the picture below is a very old pump house next to the stream.
More photos in the gallery album.