Forestry in the Quantocks
Forest Enterprise, an agency of the Forestry Commission, manages a vast estate of woodlands throughout Britain. In the South West, Peninsula Forest District looks after over 200 woodlands in the counties of Cornwall, Devon and West Somerset.
The woods of the Quantock Hills offer some of the most stunning scenery in the District as well as providing a haven for wildlife. During the summer the roads and local beaches can become crowded and a walk along the Quantock Ridge provides a more peaceful and relaxing setting in which to explore the local countryside.
Between Bridgwater and Minehead, just below the highest peaks of the Quantock Hills, lies the magnificent Great Wood. This large mixed woodland is characterised by its hills, steepsided combes and babbling streams. The wood in general supports a great diversity of woodland plants and animals and this is especially the case in the thickest parts of the wood which provides a sanctuary for the Red deer which roam the hills.
The wood offers many opportunities for you to explore. A three mile walking trail through Great Wood starts at Seven Wells and winds its way past the brook hopefully giving you the chance to spot wildlife along the way. The forest tracks and rides can be a great place for mountain biking especially on a family day out. Horse riding is also a popular pastime here and a number of Public Bridleways traverse the wood.
A scenic 2km drive along the forest tracks deep in to Great Wood brings you to Ramscombe, a particularly picturesque area of the wood and ideal for a picnic in the summer months. The facilities in this part of the wood are suited to wheelchair users since the well-surfaced forest tracks provide an opportunity to explore further. Toilets and ample parking are also available at Ramscombe as is a picnic area and BBQ area which are suitable for all abilities.
St Audries (also known locally as Deerpark) lies at the northern edge of the Quantock Ridge. A much smaller wood than Great Wood it provides an excellent starting point for exploring the rest of the Quantocks. Forest tracks lead in to this grand conifer wood and there are many informal viewpoints along the way offering glorious views across the Bristol Channel and West to the Exmoor National Park.
With thanks to Forest Enterprise for this article