What you'll see at Ashclyst forest, Killerton
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In the 19th century, Sir Thomas Acland planted conifers to provide timber for the Killerton Estate. The resulting 300-hectare woodland is one of the largest in East Devon. Within the forest are several trails, clearly marked and of varying lengths - a great facility in a wildlife-rich woodland.
How to get here
Visitors can park and walk for free. From Broadclyst, take the B3181 north to Budlake. Turn right in the village onto a narrow minor road. There are several car parks along this road, with the main one situated at grid ref: SY 001995. Trails vary from 1.5 to 7 miles. The longest is a bridleway. Paths can get very muddy after wet weather, so wear sensible footwear.
In the deciduous woodland look for traditional spring flowers like bluebells, wood anemone, lords and ladies and wood sorrel, with early purple orchids in April and May.
Early butterflies include speckled woods and pearl-bordered fritillaries, which can be seen in May around the woodland glades, particularly where coppicing has taken place.
Butterfly-attracting flowers in the glades include enchanter's nightshade, knapweed, wood sage, meadowsweet, hemp agrimony, self heal, centaury and cat's-ear. Silver-washed fritillary and white admiral butterflies appear in July and August.
This is the season for fungi. With a damp ground and much rotting wood, this is a great place for them.
Birds and mammals are easier to spot when the trees are bare. Look for flocks of finches around the woodland edges.
In late winter, woodland birds will be establishing their territories. You may hear great spotted woodpeckers, ravens and buzzards.
Woodland birds resident throughout the year include jay, nuthatch, treecreeper, tawny owl and sparrowhawk.
The beauty of this type of environment is that not only does the subject matter change through the seasons, so too does the backdrop against which it's set. It's a wonderful place to relax and unwind - beautiful whatever the time of year.