The Hornecourt Wood spring walk on Harewoods Estate
This walk takes you along quiet roads, across open fields and through the ancient Hornecourt woodland. Here you’ll find pretty displays of delicate spring flowers – bluebells, celandines and wood anemones.
Outwood Common car park TQ326456
From the National Trust car park just off Scott's Hill/Outwood Lane walk back towards the road and cross over to Gayhouse Lane. Walk along Gayhouse Lane with the windmill on your left.
Outwood windmill is the oldest working windmill in England, being built in 1665. It's privately owned (visit www.outwoodmill.com for opening times.
50 metres along Gayhouse Lane you'll reach a track going off to the right just past a cottage (Wilmots Lane). Take this turning and follow the hedge on your left to a kissing gate.
20m along this lane is a kissing gate on your left and footpath across a field. Go through the kissing gate and follow the well worn footpath until you reach the hedge on the far side. Turn right and follow the hedge line along to the entrance to Hornecourt Wood.
English hedge blossom
This hedge is filled with flowers in the spring time as first the blackthorn and then the hawthorn bushes burst into blossom.
You should immediately start to see our stunning displays of spring flowers, as you enter the woods. Take a moment to savour the peace and quiet of this special place. Head off along the path to your left and walk along the top of the ridge.
The path bends around to the right and the T junction turn left. Keep straight ahead and you'll see some steps. Go down, walk the plank across the stream and climb up the other side. Once at the top, take a left turn and then immediately turn right (so that you have the field on your left).
Here the bluebells are particularly stunning. As you carry on along this path you will also see wood anemones and lesser celandine. These are all good indicators of the area being ancient woodland.
After around 100m, you'll reach a T-junction. Turn left here and follow the path up to the top of the hill.
You'll then see a path to your left and two to your right. Take the top path on the right (at about 2 o'clock heading east). You should have the field close to you on your left as you head along this path, with old coppice stools of hornbeam and beautiful woodland flora beneath.
Hornbeam is a native British tree, which looks a lot like a beech only smaller. The wood is very durable and the tree can live up to 300 years. Finches, tits and small mammals eat the seeds in the autumn. The timber is extremely hard and in the past was used for furniture, flooring, ox-yokes and making the cogs in windmills. Coppicing was a way of harvesting timber and encouraging new growth.
Continue along this path for around 200m, passing a small footbridge on your left and then a path heading at right angles on your right.
As you head down to the corner of the wood you'll see wonderful country views looking south, through the hornbeam hedge line. Keep an eye out for roe deer passing across the fields.
As you follow the path at the bottom of the wood, to the right, you'll see an open area of woodland. This area’s conifers were felled a few winters ago, to enable native broadleaf trees (oak and hornbeam) to grow in their place. This should help improve the biodiversity of the woodland.
Continue to follow the path at the bottom of the wood, passing over a couple of footbridges.
Ancient woodland boundary
As you walk along notice the ditch and bank on your left. These were often used to mark the boundaries for old woods. and the stems from hornbeams are bent across to create fencing to protect wild beasts such as deer invading the wood.
The path will start to ascend, with a few smaller paths turning off to your left. Where it forks by an old tree trunk, take the path to the right.
Keep on the main path until you reach a small bench made of part of the trunk of the tree. Keep this on your left, and head straight up the hill with the field on your left. After around 100m, you’ll reach the corner of the wood where you first entered (point 4). At this stage retrace your steps out into the field and cross back over to Wilmots Lane, where you can then follow Gayhouse Lane, past the windmill, back to the car park.
Outwood Common car park TQ326456
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