Benington's only SSSI    

Details are from

Benington High Wood is an ancient woodland (20.7 ha ) Grid ref: TL 285235, and one of the best remaining examples in the county of the pedunculate oak - hornbeam woodland of the ash-maple variant, which is restricted nationally to south and east England. The wood has a good structure, with areas of both high forest and coppice with standards, interspersed with woodland clearings and broad rides where the species richness of the ground flora is increased.

The dominant tree species are pedunculate oak Quercus robur standards and hornbeam Carpinus betulus occurring mainly as overgrown coppice and dominating the well developed shrub layer. Shrub species include field maple Acer campestre, hazel Corylus avellana and midland hawthorn Crataegus laevigata; the last is strongly associated with ancient woodlands.

The ground flora is characteristic of the woodland type and dominated by dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis and bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. There are avariety of plants which are associated with ancient woodland sites, including yellow archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon, wood anemone Anemone nemorosa and wood sedge Carex sylvatica. The diversity of the ground flora increases where the chalk underlying the boulder clay is close to the surface on the western side.

A well planned programme of woodland management, including the re-establishment of coppicing is enhancing the value of this site.

What is ancient woodland ?

An ancient woodland is one which has existed since at least 1600 AD , and possibly much longer. Prior to this date , planting of woodland was very uncommon which suggests that if a wood was present in 1600 it is likely to have been there for some time previously, and may be a remnant of the original wildwood which once covered most of Britain.

Other examples of ancient woodland within the parish include , High Grove ( TL 301224 ) , Great Dennis’s Wood  ( TL 319225 ), and finally , another excellent example of an ancient woodland on the parish boundary is Combs Wood ( TL 318218 ).

There is a public footpath on the northern edge of the wood where its possible to observe many of the woods features mentioned above, also check out the large coppiced ash along the path, which is very old.

Andy Pratt

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