Simon's Wood centenary walk at Finchampstead Ridges
An area of wet woodlands and lowland heath providing an increasingly rare habitat which supports life for many birds and invertebrates. On this walk, you can explore the views, flora and fauna of the broadleaved and coniferous woodlands, the naturally created Heath Pond, and the rare delights of a heathland habitat.
Simons Wood car park, Wellingtonia Avenue, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berkshire RG45 6AE
The walk starts in the car park. Enter the woods through the access between the welcome board and leaflet stand. Follow the naturally formed path through the sweet chestnut trees.
If you go down to the woods today...
You'll notice the woodland appears more open here. This area contains more coniferous woodland. There are various tracks twisting and turning through this compartment of woods, so it's great for exploring, but don't get lost...
Walk straight across the track to the path opposite.
These signs were carved with chainsaws, mainly from Scots pine. The pine were felled to provide more light onto the woodland floor which enables valuable heath vegetation to grow.
Where the path forks, follow the arrow sign.
At the next track, turn left. You're now walking on the old Devils Highway, the Roman road that once ran between London and Silchester.
You're now at Heath Pool. Walk over the surface drain, and turn right into the woodland.
Why is heathland so special?
Heath Pool is a naturally formed pond popular with wildlife. During spring, look out for the common toad making their way to the pond to lay their eggs. In the summer months, see how many dragonflies you can identify. Please avoid disturbing the water, to prevent damaging the water quality these special creatures depend on.
Continue left over the boardwalk. Please keep your dogs on a lead around the heathland as disturbance can affect the cycle of the birds that breed here.
Why not join in?
This area of heathland was restored under the Heathland Restoration Programme in the 1990s. Heathland is an important habitat for insects, spiders, reptiles and birds such as nightjars and Dartford warblers. Disturbance from human and dog interaction can seriously affect this wildlife so access is restricted. Dog waste can promote non-heathland vegetation that can upset the natural balance between heather, gorse and open sand. In the spring and summer, take binoculars and enjoy watching the antics of the bird and damselfly displays.
At the track, turn left, back onto the old Devils Highway.
Turn right at the sign. You're now walking through a mix of broad-leaved and coniferous woodland. Watch your step as it can get boggy here.
Follow the arrows and boardwalks through the woodlands.
You're now in another area of heathland.
During the winter months, when wildlife is less active in the heathland, we manage the area by creating a diverse age range of vegetation (0-20 years old). We remove birch and pine saplings which would otherwise replace the heather and gorse needed for this habitat. If you'd like to help us maintain this habitat, please get in touch by emailing us at Runnymede.
Cross the track - taking a quick right then left - and continue through the woodland.
Cross another track, follow the arrow and continue past the sweet chestnut trees back to the car park.
It is thought that the sweet chestnut tree was brought here by the Romans. The nuts were a good food source and were ground into flour, added to soups and used in stuffing. September and October are great months for foraging sweet chestnuts.
Simon's Wood car park, Wellingtonia Avenue, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berkshire RG45 6AE
You made it
Following this trail on mobile or tablet? Share your experience.