Things to see and do
Every spring the floor of the ancient woodlands at Heartwood Forest is transformed into a mass of fragrant bluebells. This spectacular carpet of vibrant blue captures the very essence of British woodland.
Bluebells are the bounty of spring. We encourage you to get out and enjoy what they have to offer, but watch where you put your feet. Over recent years, over an acre of bluebells have been lost in Langley Wood at Heartwood (equivalent to over half the size of Wembley football pitch). This is due to visitors wandering off the paths and trampling the bluebells.
Walking at Heartwood
There are three great way-marked trails to follow at Heartwood.
An easy 2.5 mile/4km walk that takes approximately 1hr 30mins, including ancient woodland and wildflower meadows.
An easy 1.5 miles/2.4km walk that takes approximately 1 hour, including the Magical Wood – the perfect stop for families.
An easy 2.7 miles/4.3km walk that takes approximately 1hr 30mins, including Langley Wood – famous for its bluebell displays in spring.
Horses are welcomed on both public and permissive bridleways throughout the site. To help avoid damage to the ground and plants, we ask riders to keep to the bridleways at all times and try to avoid any waterlogged paths to help prevent further erosion or widening.
Horses are not permitted on footpaths, including the permissive paths through the ancient woodland.
The bridleways are also used by pedestrians and cyclists. Bridleways and footpaths are clearly signed throughout the site.
Download the Heartwood Forest access map (PDF, 2.7MB).
Bicycles are welcomed on all of the public and permissive bridleways at Heartwood Forest.
As with any wood, there may be muddy paths or steep slopes around the site so check the weather conditions before you visit and wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
Bridleways are also used by pedestrians and horse riders. Footpaths are not accessible for bicycles and horses and are intended only for pedestrian use, including those through the ancient woodland. Bridleways and footpaths are clearly signed throughout the site.
With its extensive pathways and open space, Heartwood is the perfect place to walk your dog.
Please keep your dog on a lead in designated areas of the site and around long grass, particularly during nesting season (1 March – 31 July).
You are also responsible for any dog mess, so please use the bins on site, or take it home with you. We also ask that you only walk four dogs at once, following common advice.
We are considerate to our farming neighbours, so please keep your dog under close control by the Hill End Farm boundary. And remember, sheep worrying is an offence.
Would you like to volunteer at Heartwood Forest and help us with hedge-laying, general maintenance and other important tasks? Perhaps you fancy helping out at our events or with welcoming visitors to the wood?
We really appreciate your help and have a network of volunteers to offer support. Check out the Woodland Trust volunteering opportunities for more information. And if you’d like to support Heartwood Forest with a donation, please consider our appeal.
Volunteers are monitoring populations of plants and wildlife across Heartwood Forest. They’ve so far recorded more than 80 species of bird and 27 species of butterfly! (PDF, 2.9MB).
Look out for nest boxes designed to encourage barn owls, tawny owls and kestrels. And listen out for wonderful variety of bird song.
We have a few prime bird watching spots along our way-marked walks as well as little hints and tips dotted around the site, so keep an eye out for our little pointers.
Discover your family’s wild side
Nature-loving families can have fun at Heartwood Forest.
The Magical Wood is growing a little more every day and looks set to be a great new natural playground when fully grown. Simply follow the Family Discovery trail to this 50-acre broadleaf woodland. And let the kids discover their wild side.
Along our walks you’ll find a dedicated den building area too, so make sure you take our Nature Detectives den-building activity sheet (PDF, 551KB) with you. To identify trees, birds and minibeasts, download our Nature Detectives Spotter sheet (PDF).
Uncover ancient woodland
Heartwood Forest is made up of four woods - Langley Wood, Pismire Spring, Well and Pudler’s Wood, and Round Wood.
In spring, you can enter these ancient woods to discover their carpets of beautiful bluebells.
And in the summer, mature broadleaf trees provide dappled shade for unique plants and wildlife. But please be careful where you tread as any misstep could mean that there are fewer precious bluebells next year.
Explore an orchard in the making
We’ve been planting a community orchard at Heartwood Forest with fruit trees including apple, pear, cherry plum, medlar and apricot. You can pop in as the seasons pass to see the trees grow and the fruits ripen.
One of the latest additions to Heartwood Forest is the new arboretum which, once fully grown, will be the only one known in the UK to contain all 60 of our native tree species.
Both the orchard and arboretum are a little further away from the main car park but accessible from Sandridge.
New free Tree ID app
In a few easy steps, the app will help you identify trees using bark, twigs, buds, leaves, flowers or fruits. You can also browse the A-Z tree guide which is packed full of clear images and fascinating facts about each species. And you can save your favourite trees and record them on your own map.