National Countryside Week: Enjoying Erlestoke Woods 

This week is National Countryside Week, and to celebrate, local business Landmarc Support Services, has taken its employees to Erlestoke Woods to talk through the historical landscape and heritage of the woods. 



The Landmarc team from Head Office enjoying an educational tour around Erlestoke Woods to help celebrate National Countryside Week, hosted by South West Regional Rural Estate Delivery Adviser, Tom Theed. From  L to R, GIS Team Leader – Martin Pearce, Rural Estate Delivery Advisor – Tom Theed, Assistant Commercial Manager – Hannah Britten, GIS Technician – Adam Winpenny, Asset & Maintenance Manager – Anne Dempsey, Finance Administrator – Julie Smart, NSC Call Agent – Julie Clegg, Finance Administrator – Hazel Scott and Communications Coordinator – Fiona McKnight-Burton.

Landmarc maintains the National Training Estate on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), including Erlestoke Woods. Tom Theed, Rural Estate Delivery Advisor at Landmarc, gives local residents a rundown of things to know when heading out into Erlestoke…

Spot the species
There are over ten species of Broadleaved trees in Erlestoke Woods, including Oak and Ash, and at least five conifers. There are also remnants of ornamental shrubs such as Rhododendron and Box bushes, so see if you can spot each of the species! Earlier in the year these woods are full of bluebells, keep an eye out for any of these that may still be around.
 
Go walking with wildlife
We’re drawing to the end of bird nesting season, so there will be lots of young birds about – which is great for keen twitchers. It’s also a good time of year for many beetles, butterflies, moths and dragonflies, and there are freshwater shrimps in the spring-fed ponds.
 
Keep clean and safe

We want you to enjoy Erlestoke Woods, however it’s vital you take litter home, stick to footpaths and rights of way wherever possible, and leave gates as you find them. Most importantly, read and obey all signs and warnings to make sure you stay safe.

Stay bio-secure
Bio-security is also important to protect the forest, so make sure you clean your footwear to reduce the risk of spreading disease. Best practice is to clean boots if possible before and after going to new areas.

Brush up on history 
Erlestoke Woods has a very interesting history - the current location of the wood used to be Water Street until the late 1700s. The then landowner, Joshua Smith, MP for Devizes, rebuilt Erlestoke House in a new position, and re-landscaped the park.

Ponds were built with cascades and waterfalls, and ornamental trees planted. The land was then bought by the War Office in the late 1930s, and during the Second World War the House was a training school for the Special Operations Executive. The House became a prison in 1960, but everything south of the main road was retained by the MOD, and it’s currently used most frequently by the Royal Navy for search and rescue training exercises.

Look to the future
Surveys of the ponds and dams will be carried out this year, to restore them over the next five years.  This will include some further tree clearance and new footpaths making the visitor experience even more enjoyable.
 
For more information about Erlestoke Woods, go to
https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/local/erlestoke-park-wood-Wiltshire

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