Today we went for a stroll through the lovely Denge Woods, near Canterbury. Dating back to at least 1600, Denge Wood is part of a semi-natural ancient wood complex on the North Downs.
Mainly sweet chestnut coppice, it stands alongside an area of former chalk grassland, known as The Warren, and this combination provides an interesting wildlife habitat, particularly for the rare Duke of Burgundy fritillary butterfly, a butterfly that has seen a sharp decline in numbers over the last 20 years. As it particularly loves woodlands with sunny coppiced clearings and grassy areas, Denge Woods is ideal habitat and the butterfly exists in three separate colonies in the wood,
jointly owned by the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust
and a private individual. These individuals have set up a special project to help the butterfly thrive in the woods through a targeted forestry management plan. The
creation of a ‘wildlife corridor’ will link the colonies, ensuring the butterfly's
survival. Plans include the creation of a strategic wildlife corridor measuring 1km by 40m to link three isolated colonies of the Duke of Burgundy; woodland corridor and track-side coppicing, and clearance of invading scrub; more wildflowers including primrose (primula veris),
There are a number of entrances where you can park up and wander into the woods. We went to an area that we hadn't been to before and were pleasantly pleased by what we saw! Wide paths enabled easy walking through swathes of trees, both upright and fallen many years ago, covered in moss.
The woods were very mossy in places, lending a lush green splash of colour to the rather drab brown of the bare trees. The photo below is sphagnum moss, and very pretty it is too!
Our meanderings led us to what can only be described as an avenue of broom! This was a lush oasis with both sides of the path swathed in broom plants. When in flower, these plants produce masses of yellow pea-like flowers loved by bees. I must remember to come back here when they are in flower, I am sure the sight will be spectacular and humming with bees.
There were also attractive dead seed heads of Willowherb and Foxgloves, which created interest amongst the other plants.
The sun was out all afternoon and at one point struck a lovely old gnarled tree and lit it up.
We returned back to the car a bit muddy but full of further love for these wonderful woods.