Essex Wildlife Trust
This 50 acre reserve is just below the crest of the Great Totham Ridge and includes 23 acres of ancient woodland forming part of the Chantry Wood complex. A wonderful carpet of Bluebells can be enjoyed in the spring. The remaining 27 acres are arable land managed by a tenant farmer.
What to look for:
The wood comprises large Oak standards with sections of Sweet Chestnut and Hornbeam coppice, and Ash, Elder and Hazel under storey. The eastern edge is wet with an open glade and thick scrub areas, while the southern edge consists of secondary woodland of Silver Birch and hawthorn that has colonised the adjacent field edges. The Trust has resumed coppicing and created some open areas to rejuvenate the wood.
In spring, carpets of Bluebells, along with Bugle, Cuckoo Flower, Wood Sorrel, Wood Anemone, Primrose and Dog Violet flower, followed in summer by Yellow Pimpernel, Red Bartsia, Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil and Wood Sage. Dragonflies and damselflies may be seen in the glade and, in July, Glow-worms. Large amounts of standing dead wood in the site make it excellent for invertebrates. including many wood ants.
Public Transport - Bus to Great Totham from Maldon or Colchester and get off at Great Totham post office. The reserve is 800m north.
Dogs allowed if under effective control.
Directions - Leave the B1022 at Roundbush Corner, Great Totham, taking Mountains Road. After about 1200m take the first turning on the right (Tiptree Road) and the entrance is about 400m down on the left with double gates at the entrance.
Did you know?
There really is a carpet of Bluebells to be enjoyed in the spring in Shut Heath Wood.
Species and habitats