Chelfham Woods, near Barnstaple, 90 acres total

Chelfham Woods
Area: 90 acres approx

Available for division

Planning improvement works at Chelfham has taken us much of the winter.  Chelfham is the largest of the three woods purchased from the League Against Cruel Spports and covers close to 90 acres.  We have applied for a Woodland Improvement Grant for the work, and the Forestry Commission have confirmed the site as eligible.  This is based on bringing neglected woodland back into active management.  The map below shows the major track system planned, utilising an existing entrance at Hakeford.  As well as FC visits, we have also obtained land drainage consent for the two stream crossings, and have lodged a felling licence application to cover the removal of some trees along the track route.  Last week we finally obtained planning approval for the works from the District Council.  So now it is time to speak to contractors to get some estimates or quotes for the work!

1 to 5000 map for webAs part of very preliminary work for the tracks we have been coppicing and laying some hazel along the main route, an old and overgrown green lane called Shute Lane.  Getting light in is necessary to dry out the track route, and provide space for an improved surface capable of withstanding modern traffic.  We also have to time work to minimise disturbance to dormice, which are in the area, which means avoiding management during the breeding season (June to August).  As a result track work is likely to be finished in the autumn.

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The woods have a management plan written for the League Against Cruel Sports, and we will be using this as the basis for future management work.  However, we do intend to reduce the planned volumes of thinnings, with around 500-600 cubic metres coming out in the next five years.  This will include a small area of mature larch in Lower Davis Wood, which will be replanted with native broadleaves.  Eastacott Wood has a lot of windblow, and a large volume of firewood will come out just clearing through the wood, while retaining nearly all the mature trees over there.  Hakeford is a really nice oak woodland, which has been created from thinning old coppice, and would perhaps benefit from further light thinning.  This would favour oak, and select against some beech that is seeding in to the area.  The meadows below Hakeford are fantastic species rich unimproved pasture, but do need some cutting to keep brambles and bracken in check.  Another option we are considering is digging a large pond in the river valley, perhaps quarrying the hole for stone for the track improvements.

Large parts of the site are classified as ancient woodland, and although there are no formal designations on much of the land it is a haven for wildlife, with a mix of stream, various types of woodland and the old meadows.  Red deer are present in the woods, and use the rough ground for resting up in the summer.  Otters have been recorded in the stream and while we have no records for dormice, they have been found nearby and are almost certainly present.

Our intention is to split this woodland into smaller parcels, but exact lotting may depend on interest from prospective purchasers.  If the woodlands appeal to you, please get in touch and we will see if we can organise a plot to suit.  We would prefer to make divisions on natural boundaries, but at this stage we remain flexible.  This information is currently only available to our newsletter subscribers, so you have an early opportunity to express an interest!  Please contact Stephen by phone (01579 350050) or e-mail (stephen@wildlife-woodlands.com) if you would like to discuss or explore further.

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