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Whippendell Wood

Whippendell Wood is 160 acres of woodland situated on the outskirts of Watford. It is believed to have been continuously wooded for at least 400 years and is listed Natural England as ancient wood. There are wide permissive footpaths through the wood, and a public footpath cuts through the wood, across the golf course and into Cassiobury Park. Around the perimeter of the wood is a permissive horse ride, shared with pedestrians, and this is very popular with local horse riders.   

The main species of tree in the wood are Pendunculate oak, beech, silver birch and ash.  There are also areas of hazel and hornbeam, holly, hawthorn, wild cherry and spindle. Sycamore invasion (an exotic species) has occurred in several areas; this will be gradually felled to allow regeneration of the natural species.   

Whippendell Wood is famous for its stunning displays of bluebells in the spring: the best time to visit to appreciate the glorious blue carpet is between the last week of April and the first week of May. There are abundant areas of bramble, bracken and Dog’s mercury, and open grassy glades.  Unless it blocks a footpath, dead wood has been left to rot down, providing a perfect habitat for several rare and uncommon species of fungi and invertebrates. The discovery of a fungus, Crepidotus cinnabarinus, in 1995 represents a new British record, and is only the fourth European record of this species.  Material from this fungus has been deposited at the national herbarium at Kew.  

The diversity of habitats in Whippendell Wood supports a variety of birds. All three species of British woodpecker breed here, as well as the tawny owl and sparrow hawk.  Noctule bats can be spotted on warm evenings, and the odd Muntjac deer can be seen. There are also badger setts and possibly Roe deer.

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