Big Wood is a 10.7 hectare (26.4 acres) section of ancient woodland lying to the north of Peacock Meadows North, between Peacock Lane and the A329(M).
There are 3 signposted gates allowing access to the site from Peacock Meadow North providing various routes linking into the southern wildflower meadows.
The woodland block has seen little change over many years allowing for a mixture of broadleaf ancient woodland to establish. The site incorporates a large clearing through the centre of the site which is dominated with bracken.
There is a surfaced pathway throughout the woodland linking back to Peacock Meadows North and South allowing for visitors to undertake various walking routes and lengths.
Big Wood has the following facilities:
- noticeboards and way-markers at strategic points around the SANG
- kissing gates on the entrances with RADAR Key access
- many places to sit, rest and enjoy the views
- 1.5 km series of surfaced pathways allowing wheelchair access (accessed by mown grass paths)
How to get to Big Wood
From the north (Popeswood) follow Beehive Road heading south, over the A329 overpass and onto Peacock Lane, turn right onto Peacock lane after 500m cross Peacock Lane going north into Peacock Meadow North, follow the mown paths up to the woodland in the distance.
Alternatively, access is also available from the north under the A329 by using Public Footpath Binfield FP16.
From the south (Great Hollands) travel along Ringmead, turn left onto Public Footpath 16 (50m on from Vandyke). Follow the public footpath through Beedon Drive open space and past Easthampstead Park School until you reach the southern corner of Peacock Meadows South. Turn right onto Public Footpath 15 and follow north to West Garden Copse. Take Public Footpath 18 and follow signs for Peacock Meadow North/Big Wood for a further 350m. Cross Peacock Lane and into Peacock Meadow North, follow the mown paths up to the woodland in the distance.
There is no car parking on site. You can park in Jennett’s Park residential area at either Swift Fields at SU 84512 67809 or (closest) postcode RG12 8BX or Tawny Owl Square at SU 84731 68044 or (closest) postcode RG12 8EB.
The south western corner of the woodland was until recently a Pine woodland plantation. This ecologically poor non-native species has been felled and re-stocked with native broadleaf trees complementing the existing woodland.
Future habitat improvements will include new ponds and wetland features as well as reducing the bracken dominant areas to promote further floral diversity.
The older section of woodland currently acts as a good example of ancient woodland with a good mix of open woodland and scrubland. This area has seen little change over many years and an important level of ground flora has established. This area is predominantly left to reduce disturbance and damage by foot traffic and machinery.
Areas of deadwood are an important part of a woodland ecosystem and are left (where safe to do so) to provide further food and nesting opportunities.
There is an abundance of wildlife in this woodland block. Birds typical of smaller ancient woodland blocks are to be expected and include breeding Tawny owl, Great-Spotted and Green woodpecker, Buzzard, Stock dove and Nuthatch.
There is a badger sett within the wider woodland. Badger setts are legally protected under the Badger Act 1992 and must be left undisturbed.
Roe deer are regular visitors foraging through the clearings especially during dusk and dawn.
The older trees within the woodland provide essential roosts for several species of bat where the clearings, rides and neighbouring meadows provide many feeding opportunities