MONK Wood is managed as a nature reserve, open to the public and popular with local residents. Only one public right of way (a bridleway) runs through the wood but there is an extensive network of other paths and rides, all of which may be used.

This means there’s excellent access to the wide variety of habitats encompassed by Monk Wood, so that even the shortest walk in the wood is potentially full of interest.

This particular short walk includes several different habitats, including newly coppiced woodland, mature coppice, wetland areas and woodland edge. The surrounding areas are interesting too – sheep-grazed pastures retain a scattering of veteran oak trees, while Monkwood Green is a mosaic of flower-rich grassland, wetland and scrub.

Monk Wood was owned for centuries by Worcester Priory and managed in the traditional way by coppicing.

Later owners maintained the tradition but in the 1950s Monk Wood was bought by L G Harris and Co Ltd, for the production of timber suitable for turning into brush handles.

The company felled large areas, which were replanted with fastgrowing, non-native species, and this is why Monk Wood, though officially classified as ancient woodland, lacks large numbers of veteran trees today. Even so, it retained enough wildlife interest throughout the Harris years for present owners Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation to consider purchase worthwhile when it came on to the market in 1986.

Since then, coppicing has been reinstated and many non-native trees removed.

Ponds have been dug and there is a great emphasis on constructing and maintaining paths, rides and glades because these allow sunlight into the wood which encourages flowering plants, insects and birds.

Along with the woodland edge, these are the most species-rich areas of any wood.

Contractors will be working in Monk Wood this winter to construct new glades. The work is unlikely to affect the route described here but look out for any on-site notices anyway, just in case some parts of the wood do become temporary no-go areas.

FACTFILE START The main entrance to Monk Wood, on a minor road north-west of Hallow, between Monkwood Green and Sinton Green: grid ref SO804606.

LENGTH 3½ miles/5.5km.

MAPS OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150฀฀฀

TERRAIN Woodland and pasture, with one arable field; no hills.

The woodland paths and the fields are currently exceptionally wet and muddy.

FOOTPATHS Excellent, apart from incorrect waymarking at one point.


PARKING Monk Wood.

BUSES Aston’s 308 Worcester to Martley via Monk Wood and Monkwood Green, Mon-Sat; bustimetables or 01905 765765.

REFRESHMENTS Fox Inn at Monkwood Green.

DIRECTIONS 1Go through a gate to join a bridleway through Monk Wood, but after a few paces take an unsigned path on the right.

Walk to the edge of the wood and turn left. Take the next branching path on the left, after about 100m.

The path is narrow, easily missed and slightly overgrown by brambles in places. Follow it back to the bridleway, meeting it at a junction with another path. Turn right on the bridleway but after a few paces leave it again, for another path on the right, by a bench. This wide, well-used path leads past a newly coppiced area to a junction with a narrow path.

Turn left, staying on the wider path, which is now waymarked as a nature trail. Follow it to the edge of Monk Wood and turn left, staying close to the woodland edge at subsequent junctions.

2Eventually, you will rejoin the bridleway by a wooden post inscribed with the number six, at the north-west corner of Monk Wood. Turn right on the bridleway, going through a gate to leave the wood, then immediately right again, leaving the bridleway for a footpath. Cross a stile into a pasture and go across to another stile, then turn right and thereafter just follow the waymarked route through the fields to the left of Monk Wood. For most of the way you should be about 100m from the wood.

3Go through a gate by a pond. A waymark points the way forward, apparently by the woodland edge. This is incorrect so ignore the misleading waymark, walk past the pond and past a fallen oak tree then go diagonally left across the field. There are two groups of oak trees ahead, with three trees in each group – go to the left-hand trio then follow a line of trees to a stile in a fence.

Continue in roughly the same direction across the next field, passing to the left of a pylon, to another stile in a fence.

4Cross the stile, turn right, cross another stile and turn left by a hedge. Walk to a lane, turn right to a T-junction and then left towards Sinton Green. Take the next path on the right and follow it across three fields to a junction. Turn right and walk through more fields then to the right of a barn to emerge on Monkwood Green. Turn right, walk past the Fox Inn and continue across the green to meet a road.

5Turn right to Monk Wood.

There is access to the wood on both sides of the road and you can go either way to return to the main entrance. The following description is for the route on the west side of the road. Go into the wood on the left and walk along the main path, ignoring a narrow path on the right parallel with the road. Turn right on a public footpath soon after you see a waymark on the left (the exact line of the path differs from that marked on OS maps). Pass two ponds and go left at a waymarked junction, over a footbridge, then soon left on a path which runs parallel with the road and leads to the main entrance.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside.

This walk is based on OS Explorer 204