Farther Barn Field is an open field, but has been part-planted along the edges to create corridors between Common Wood and the Plantation. The smaller field sitting in the valley bottom contains elements associated with neutral soils, whereas moving up the slope the flora becomes more calcareous in character – particularly near the top where the sward becomes more open, and floristic diversity increases.
Gravelly Way Plantation is a former silver birch and larch plantation, which is being thinned and replanted with native species.
Elephant Tree – Two beech trees have grown together to form the shape of an elephant’s trunk as seen on the front cover. It can be seen just above the ‘M’ of Middle Way.
Common Wood is a semi-natural Ancient Woodland. This means it has been woodland for over 400 years but has been managed by man for most, if not all that time. The mainly beech woodland we see today was mostly planted by the Penn Estate after the 1855 Inclosure, with some Douglas Fir avenues. Over the years, much of the beech has been felled either by clear-felling whole areas or by selective felling to preserve a continuous canopy. This, combined with a rich variety of soil types, has resulted in an interesting mix of flora within the wood.
There are no less than 14 of the nationally recognised “vegetation classifications” within the wood, from Beech and Bramble, to Gorse and Bramble scrub, to Oak with Silver Birch, to Yew. This makes for excellent biodiversity. In 2003, 150 plant and tree types, 85 fungi (including the first UK report of Russula lepidicolor) and 40 bird species were recorded. Less common mammals include badgers, wood mice, muntjac and occasional roe deer.