This popular area of ancient broadleaved woodland, bordered by unspoiled meadows, is one of the few remaining fragments of the Royal Forest of Bernwood, an ancient hunting forest.
Most of the trees here were felled in the late 1940s, and only a handful of mature oaks remain. Today's 'wildwood' is a mixture of ash, field maple, aspen, hazel and oak along with blackthorn, hawthorn, spindle and a few old hornbeams. The woodland is damp and tussocky with a wide variety of sedges, grasses and rushes.
In spring, the woodland has a scattering of bluebells and contains many plants that thrive in ancient wooded sites, such as wood anemone, primrose and yellow archangel. In April and May, look out for moschatel, otherwise known as the 'townhall clock', or 'Good Friday plant'. The small yellow-green flowers are arranged in a fascinating way, at right angles to one another, like the faces of a town clock.
Rushbeds Wood is excellent for butterflies, and you are likely to see the tree canopy aflutter with the fast-flying purple hairstreak in June and July. The wood also supports some of the more uncommon butterflies such as the purple emperor and the black hairstreak. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the handsome silver-washed fritillary settling on bramble flowers, or even a white admiral.
Things to do & places to go
- Try our circular Wildlife Walk (1.5 miles). Just follow the badger waymarkers.
- Look out for our seasonal guided walks including autumn fungus forays.
- We run regular work parties on the reserve.
Download the site risk assessment.
Species and habitats
- Meadow, Woodland
- Amethyst Deceiver, Bluebell, Knapweed (or Black Knapweed), Great Burnet, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Green-winged Orchid, Opposite-leaved Golden-Saxifrage, Oxeye Daisy, Pepper Saxifrage, Primrose, Twayblade, Wood Anemone, Yellow Archangel, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Purple Emperor, Purple Hairstreak, Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral, Turtle Dove, Badger, Red Fox