Willesley Wood

Members of Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group met on Wednesday 21 June for an out-of-felling-season walk in Willesley Wood near Ashby. The walk was guided by Woodland Trust volunteer and warden, Ian Retson, who has been involved with the wood since its inception.


Willesley Wood – a 42 hectare site - was created by the National Forest. The first tree that was planted on the former colliery in 1991 was the very first in the new National Forest. Now a mature woodland, Willesley is home to a diverse range of flora – orchids were much in evidence during the walk – and fauna, butterflies were out evidently enjoying the summer solstice. Bird life is especially rich and benefits particularly from the presence of the lake – the result of mining subsistence. The group also saw buzzards, green woodpecker, great crested grebe and a family of swans during their two-and-a-half hour visit.

The industrial heritage of the site was also much in evidence. Ian was able to interpret the transformed landscape with tales of its earliest uses from bell pits to tramway and canal through to more recent coal mining. He guided the group to the heart of the wood where a memorial stone laid by the Royal British Legion commemorates the fallen.

Willesley Wood, now owned by the Woodland Trust, will benefit from Heartwood’s activities in the coming felling season. Having reached maturity it is now in need of thinning which will promote growth in the strongest trees, create and maintain habitat and, of course, help us fill our woodstores!

Helen Bralesford, Heartwood member