Winter woodland walk at The Vyne
Escape to a plethora of woodland colours as you take an easy stroll around the woodlands. Begin at Visitor Reception and travel along a medieval parkland boundary. Make out the remains of a medieval fish pond tread concrete paths and stumble across remnants of a storage site built for use during the Second World War.
Once past Visitor Reception, follow the path straight ahead towards Morgaston Woods. You’ll see The Vyne house and north lawn come into view across the lake on your left. In 1520, the house would have been a palace extending as far as the water. The north lawn is where Tudor courtyards would have been located. Inside the house, there is still a Tudor peephole concealed within the oak panelling of one of the rooms. This would have allowed the user to eavesdrop on conversations outside. The lake itself was artificially created after 1754. Until that time it would have been a small brook.
As you pass through the gates into the woods, you’ll see the site of an old bridge on your left. This once formed part of the main drive to the house. The approach to the house has been altered many times over The Vyne’s history as fashions evolved. This route would have shown off the estate and The Vyne’s portico (the large white triangular structure with pillars) before sweeping round to the south drive. Long, meandering ‘driveways’ like this one were meant to give the illusion of an even grander estate. The iron bridge collapsed in 1987 though we hope to be able to afford to rebuild it in the future.
Continue to follow the path straight ahead until you see a ‘zigzag’ wooden walkway on your left. Follow the walk-way to our purpose-built bird hide. Once a water meadow, from here you can overlook the wetlands. This natural habitat hosts a variety of bird life as well as being important for invertebrate species and rather elusive water voles. Re-emerge from the bird hide, head back up the zigzag walkway and turn left.
The path you’re walking on runs alongside the Wey Brook. The path is named Beech Walk because of the groves of beech trees that have been planted along it. If you look, you’ll see half its length follows a raised bank. This is what remains of a medieval parkland boundary that was once used to enclose the park and woodland.
Keep following the path ahead. As you approach the other side of the wood, you may notice tall slender poplar trees growing on the other side of the bank to your right. If you climb up the bank and peek over the top, you should see a large bowl shape in the ground. Bear in mind that in summer the foliage bushes out, obscuring the view. You can still get an idea of scale by seeing where the tall skinny poplar trees have been planted. This is the outline of a medieval fish pond which would have been used to grow and breed fish that could have been eaten in the house. The poplar trees themselves were planted in 1953 using grant. These were intended to be used for making match sticks, but the invention of the gas lighter saw a change in the market so here they still stand. From point number five on the map, follow the brown route round to number six. You’ll find the earthy path changes to a concrete one. What you’re walking on is a track leading to what is left of a Second World War storage site. While the house at this time would have housed evacuees from a boys’ school in Kent, the land was used to aid the war effort. It’s believed munitions may have been kept here.
Located next to the Second World War storage site, the open sunny aspect created by this woodland glade is vital for maintaining biodiversity in the woodland. Look out for a wider variety of plant and insect life. If you come on a quiet day and keep a look out, you may just spot a deer emerging from between the trees. With the glade behind you and the storage site to your left, follow the path straight ahead. On your left, you may spot a collection of dens made from sticks and branches among the trees. If you’re feeling creative, go ahead and make yourself a one! A little way further up the path is where you'll find the main display of bluebells in spring. At the end of the path, turn right and continue until you find yourself back at the lakeside gate that leads into the grounds. For a bite to eat, you can head over to our Brewhouse tea-room; just follow the path ahead until you come to a bridge over the lake, follow the path up to the house and follow signage for the tea-room.
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