The Rise of Northwood

A family helps to plant a tree in an open field, lit from behind by bright autumn sunlight.

At the heart of the Slindon Estate once stood North Wood. Much of this woodland was cut down during the First World War for timber and then the land was farmed from the Second World War onwards. The ancient woodland left standing was small and disconnected, isolating much of the wildlife that was left behind. In October 2013, this 75 hectares of ex-arable land came under the care of the Slindon Estate ranger team and we have since begun returning Northwood back to a wooded landscape, connecting the woods that were cut off from each other almost 100 years ago. If you can imagine the scale of 100 full sized football pitches, that’s the area we’re turning back into woodland.

Low winter sun shines of The Rise of Northwood
Low winter sun shines of The Rise of Northwood
Low winter sun shines of The Rise of Northwood

Why are we doing this?

The Rise of Northwood is about turning back the clock and letting nature return.  One hundred years ago this was a great woodland with soaring beech and oak trees and an understory of hazel coppice and wild flowers.  At a time of great sacrifice this land yielded timber and twenty years later grew food to feed the nation.  

Now thanks to an exceedingly generous bequest we have the opportunity to let the woodland rise again.  Not only will it reconnect isolated islands of ancient woodland and refix lost wildlife corridors it is the perfect opportunity to connect people to their local landscape, trees, wildlife and heritage.  What better way to deepen your love of your local countryside or make a new connection then to be part of a project to regrow 75 hectares of woodland.

On top of these wealth of benefits, this project plays it’s part in combatting climate change too, as the young trees capture and store carbon.  A win for wildlife, people and ultimately our planet.

Staff and volunteers help with planting tree saplings at Northwood
Staff and volunteers planting tree saplings at Northwood
Staff and volunteers help with planting tree saplings at Northwood

How has this all been possible?

The Slindon Estate received a bequest from Mr John Springthorpe-Hunt.  He was a gentleman very fond of the South Downs and we’ve acknowledged his generosity by naming the community planted woodland in his memory – Springthorpe Wood.  

There’s also been the hard work and dedication from our volunteers and local community who have made this project the success that it is today. This includes 5680 volunteer hours, involvement from 10 local school with 320 educational hours, 36 engagement events and over 1000 visitors from the surrounding area Additional support and funding from the Forestry Commission and Natural England have helped us to expand beyond the original scope, planting even more trees and creating wood pasture.

Hedges are an important habitat for wildlife
Volunteers planting a hedge at Northwood
Hedges are an important habitat for wildlife

Getting involved

The main tree planting part of the project has now been completed.  However, we’re always in need of volunteers to help survey and monitor Northwood and support the wider estate.  Go to our volunteer page to find out more about volunteering opportunities on the Slindon Estate and how you can get involved.  No experience is needed, you can learn as you go.

Slindon Pottery on Top Road
Flint and Red brick building
Slindon Pottery on Top Road

Visiting

Come and discover Northwood for yourself – stroll through fields full of tree saplings, dip in and out of ancient woodland, sweep along grassy verges and watch Northwood begin to rise right in front of your eyes.  The project area is located 1.5 miles north of Slindon, West Sussex and is accessible by a network of public footpaths and public bridleways. Permissive pathways also run directly through Northwood, allowing you to explore it even further. Limited parking is available at the end of Nore Wood Lane so if you fancy a longer walk, park up at Slindon Village and  walk down the lane or download our Rise of Northwood ramble walks trail.  Don’t forget to stop off at The Forge village shop/café at the end for a well-deserved slice of cake.