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A veteran oak pollard
Can you see how all the branches come from the same part of the trunk? | © National Trust
Bath & Bristol

Leigh Woods veteran tree walk

The southern part of Leigh Woods was formerly wood pasture and is home to a large number of veteran trees, mainly oak pollards. This area was historically part of the Ashton Court Estate, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), to the west. These two sites have one of the largest populations of veteran trees in the South West.

Total steps: 11

Total steps: 11

Start point

North Road entrance, grid ref: ST555730

Step 1

Park in the lay-by on North Road. Walk to the site entrance, go through the entrance on the left, walk up the surfaced path to the blue trail way-marker. Just beyond the way-marker on the right, you will see our first tree of interest. This tree is a veteran oak pollard, approximately 400 years old.

Step 2

Continue up the blue trail, following the surfaced path and blue way-markers. Turn right onto Valley Road and bear to the left of the National Trust reserve office, following the surfaced trail until the path starts to run parallel with the old parish wall. Here you will see a gap in the wall with a large yew tree growing in the middle of it.

A veteran yew tree in the Parish Wall, Leigh Woods
A veteran yew tree in the Parish Wall, Leigh Woods | © National Trust

Step 3

Continue along the surfaced path parallel with the wall, walk straight on through the pedestrian/field gate. Continue straight on following the path parallel with the wall.

Step 4

Turn left through the pedestrian/field gate through the wall. Continue straight ahead, when you reach the bench on the left, ignore the left turn and continue straight ahead, you are now on the boundary track, follow the path round to the right passed a collapsed stone wall, continue forward on the right you will see a low and wide veteran Oak tree in a clearing, this tree shows a stags-head shape at the top of the trunk.

Step 5

Continue along the boundary track past orienteering post C, follow the path around a sharp left turn past a bench on the right, continue past orienteering posts B and A. Just beyond the purple way-marker, there is a circular clearing with two benches. On the left of the clearing are two trees with metal tags, these are Wild Service trees, which are ancient woodland indicators. In the United Kingdom, an ancient woodland is a woodland that has had continuous tree cover since 1600. Walk straight across the clearing, just to the left of the benches, in front of you is a beech tree and just behind it is a yew.

Step 6

Behind the Monolith Beech is a large Yew tree, walk behind the Yew and stand with your back to it's trunk (see layering Yew highlight). Return to the circular clearing and turn left, re-trace your steps along the boundary track, to point 7.

A layering yew tree
Yew trees layer easily | © National Trust/Tor Stanfield

Step 7

Leave the boundary track and continue straight ahead along a short unsurfaced path (this path can be muddy when wet). There are four veteran Oak trees along the left side of this path. Can you spot which ones they are? When you reach purple way-marker 11 continue straight ahead, following the purple arrows through the remains of an old stone wall and past a bench on your left, past way-marker 12 and through the pedestrian gate through the wall.

Step 8

Continue straight on past way-marker 13 following the purple arrows, past way-marker 14, just beyond this post on your left you can see what looks like young lime trees, this is a veteran Lime pollard showing phoenix regeneration.

A lime tree which has fallen over and carried on growing
Can you see the trunk of the trunk of the veteran lime pollard? | © National Trust

Step 9

Continue along the purple trail, past the fenced off pond on your left, just before you reach the Stokeleigh camp information panel, look right you will see a veteran small leaf lime coppard on the outer ramparts of the hillfort. Continue along the purple trail when you see a large oak bench on your left just off the trail, look beyond it you will see a veteran oak which has been re-pollarded.

Step 10

Now leave the purple trail and continue straight on, at the cross-roads continue straight on towards an open grassy area, continue onto the open area this is called the plain, it is remnant wood pasture.

Step 11

Continue across the plain, bear left onto the path. Continue on the sunken path down the hill and return to point 1 the North Road entrance.

End point

North Road entrance, grid ref: ST555730

Trail map

Map route for Leigh Woods Veteran Tree walk
Map route for Leigh Woods Veteran Tree walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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