Keep Hill Wood
Keep Hill Wood lost its status as common land in 1946. Once open grassland with scattered trees and scrub and some woodland, it is now predominantly woodland with rides and glades the only open areas. It was once used by local people to graze their sheep and cattle which kept it open. The last recorded grazing took place in 1900 and in 1907 it was given to Wycombe District Council for the benefit of the local people.
In May 2011, Keep Hill Wood was declared a Local Wildlife Site in recognition of its value for wildlife.
Covering 15 hectares, Keep Hill Wood is situated near to High Wycombe town centre. The site forms part of a wooded belt running east to west above the river Wye and the Rye open area.
Much of the site was formerly grassland and has undergone woodland succession relatively recently. A network of public rights of way including bridleways (the only place to ride a bicycle or horse in the wood) and several footpaths link with permissive paths. A circular, marked route will guide you around the site taking in all the best bits and takes approximately one hour to complete.
The woodland canopy is dominated by mature beech and includes oak, lime, yew, ash, whitebeam, field maple and sycamore. The woodland undergrowth includes hazel and holly. Glades and rides along the circular route give the visitor a flavour of Keep Hill Wood when it was grazed common land.
An orienteering course will lead you from a narrow strip of woodland known as Wendover Way, across Warren Wood Drive, into Keep Hill Wood and finally into Deangarden Wood (owned by Lord Carrington).
Best time to visit
On a hot summer’s day, Keep Hill Wood will provide you with cooling shade. The managed glades and rides provide open areas alive with plants and many types of flies and other invertebrates. An autumn walk can reveal a fascinating number of fungi and on the right day as the sun shines through the woodland canopy and shows the autumn colours at their best, you will be glad you visited Keep Hill Wood.
Wildlife in the area
Along shaded paths look out for bird’s-nest orchids, an inconspicuous and infrequent orchid that gets its name from the tangle of roots at its base. In the glades and rides within the wood, look out for the yellow flowers of wild turnip umbellifer and imperforate-stjohns-wort. A Chiltern speciality, the nationally scarce coral-root bittercress occurs in a few places in the wood, look out for its pink flowers in the spring.
There are at least two active badger setts in the wood, look out for areas of excavated chalk spoil near the setts’ entrance. The badgers’ worn pathways can also be identified in the undergrowth. Both song thrush and mistle thrush nest within the wood.
The slightly smaller and slender song thrush can be identified also by its habit of repeating the phrases of its song, while the mistle thrush (also known as the storm cock) can often be heard singing while rocking back and forth high in the tree tops during a windy day.
The proximity of this site to the Rye car park and toilets make it an ideal site for schools to visit on field trips or combine a ranger led pond-dip at nearby Funges Meadow with woodland exploration in Keep Hill Wood.
Download the guide below, which are in PDF format, print them or simply view them on your mobile device.