Nap Wood walk, in the footsteps of drovers
Discover a tranquil woodland oasis along an ancient track way of the Weald.
Visit in spring to see the dense carpets of bluebells
Nap Wood is home to a fantastic array of wildlife, from the mature trees that tower above you to the vivid displays of bluebells that decorate the woodland floor in late spring. See what you can spot on this gentle walk.
A267 lay-by, grid ref: TQ581329
From the lay-by, follow the well-trodden track, an ancient drovers road, into the woods. Just before you enter the woods, take a look behind you towards Saxonbury Hill Fort (not on accessible land). A Stone Age flint axe-head and a Roman coin are just some of the artefacts found here, suggesting evidence of a settlement.
Ancient drovers' routes
These sunken tracks were created over hundreds of years and possibly existed as far back as the first few centuries AD in Romano-British times. The people who used these routes were called drovers and they'd take their livestock along them to trade and for grazing. They'd let the livestock graze in the High Weald during the summer and autumn in order to fatten them up for winter, when they would return to the Downs.
Continue along the drovers road, ignoring a path that crosses your route. After a short while, you come to a yew tree on the corner to your right. Another old sunken drovers road leads off from here, that you can head up for a short detour. Local folklore say that the tracks here once led to a hunting lodge for King John called Lightlands (still visible on maps of the area), so you could be walking in the footsteps of royalty.
Nap Wood is located in the High Weald, one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in England. Nap Wood itself is home to hundreds of grand old trees, like beech, oak, chestnut and yew. We tend to leave trees and branches to rot rather than remove them after they die as they provide an important habitat for bats, insects and fungi. Keep an eye out for bracket fungi on the side of dead trees and any holes you spot may be homes to great spotted woodpeckers. In spring, you might hear them drumming on dead tree trunks and branches to proclaim their territory.
This detour leads you to more impressive, old yew trees. After reaching them, turn back and rejoin the main trail.
Nap Wood is famous locally for its dense carpet of bluebells in the spring. At other times of the year the woodland floor is covered with honeysuckle, brambles and moss.
The track goes downhill for a short while before levelling off again. We coppice trees in Nap Wood, which is where we cut trees right back to their trunks to encourage them to grow more densely. It's a traditional, renewable way to take advantage of wood for products like charcoal. It also helps provides homes for small mammals such as dormice and shrews.
Carry on through the woods, listening out for the rustle of dormice or woodpeckers drumming the dead trees. The track winds its way up a fairly steep hill until you are back at the lay-by.
A267 lay-by, grid ref: TQ581329
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