Autumn is one of the best times to visit woods. Whether you’re visiting for autumn colour, collecting conkers or kicking through fallen leaves (my favourite) here are six woods near Didcot.
These woods are all within a 15 minute drive of Didcot, are relatively straightforward to access and are open to the public. I’ve identified locations via the traditional OS map reference and the more recent What3words location.
1. Little Wittenham Wood, Earth Trust
OS map reference: SU569930
Park either at the Wittenham Clumps car park or beside the church in Little Wittenham. This is the largest area of local woodland and one of my favourites. It does get busy but fortunately its size allows it to absorb visitors. This woodland is home to fungi, orchids (in summer), badgers and many bird species. It’s even better if you combine a walk around the wood with a trip to the top of one of the Clumps.
2. Millennium Wood, Didcot
OS map reference: SU526887
Created, as you’d guess, to commemorate the Millennium. At just 3.6 hectares this small wood is easily accessed on foot from Didcot. It’s a mixed deciduous wood, planted with native species. There’s a stone circle in the middle and a small (currently dry) pond to discover. Despite its small size I was lucky to spot a fox nearby a couple of weeks ago!
3. Broad Arboretum, Earth Trust
OS map reference: SU558924
From the car park at the Earth Trust Centre it’s a ten minute walk to the arboretum. Here you’ll find specimens of all of the native UK species. For more information pop and read my recent blog about our visit to Broad Arboretum.
4. Steventon Copse
OS map reference: SU468912
This is a great wood for younger children. Its modest size, along with fairy doors to spot, makes it a good choice for families (although it is not buggy friendly). There’s no parking at the wood itself but if you check an OS map or What3words you’ll see a couple of obvious places to park locally; do be mindful of local residents and businesses. Once parked, it’s easy to create a circular route around the wood, perhaps extending the walk up to the trig point on Steventon Hill.
5. Neptune Wood, Earth Trust
OS map reference: SU554939
This is the final Earth Trust offering. There’s a dedicated car park at the location noted above although the entrance can be rather bumpy. The information board by the entrance details a figure of eight walk around the wood. We also discovered, by accident, a path out to the replica House of Wessex (at the nearby Sylva Foundation). It makes a lovely extension to the walk and, as it is signposted, I am assuming it is OK to visit!
6. Ardington Wood
OS map reference: SU424880
This community woodland is home to another Millennium project, an impressive sundial. The sundial comprises 13 pairs of standing stones through which sunlight passes on the hour at midsummer. Also keep an eye out for the stone planets set into the ground; these are positioned as they were on 1 Jan 2000. Aside from the sundial there’s a plethora of trails to follow, many on broad rides through the still maturing trees.
If you’re willing to travel further, then these are my favourite woods within a 30 minute drive of Didcot: Harcourt Arboretum (admission charge), Snelsmore Common, Wytham Wood (permit required), and Shotover Country Park.
Have you any other recommendations? If so, do leave a comment and let me know.