Know before you go
Parking informationNo car park - access on foot via Stroud Lane
Not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to June
About the reserve
At over 400 years old, this ancient semi-natural woodland near Shamley Green is a rare haven for wildlife. But Cucknell’s Wood is no wilderness. Careful management is now enabling a wide range of species to flourish – and the wood to resume its productive life.
In spring the flora is spectacular, with lime-green wood sorrel, starry white clusters of wild garlic flowers and glorious carpets of bluebells. As you wander among oak, ash, alder, birch, rowan and hazel, the nature detectives of the family can try to spot less obvious species, such as golden saxifrage in the wettest areas, bog stitchwort, and a single wild service tree. Marsh marigolds grow near two short bridges by a wet ditch. April sees the flowering of early purple and common spotted orchids, followed in early summer by another orchid, the yellow-green twayblade.
You would be lucky to see a dormouse at any time of year, but you can often find evidence of one in the dead honeysuckle bark it strips to build its nest. Another elusive species is the long-billed woodcock, although if you wait until evening you may see it ‘roding’ or flying a regular circuit in a territorial display.
Other birds are plentiful too, including the treecreeper, green and lesser spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, nuthatch, marsh tit, willow tit, tawny owl and a resident family of buzzards. Other flyers include many different species of butterfly, moth and dragonfly, both within the wood and in the sunnier glades.
At the northern end of the wood you'll come across an open sunny glade known for centuries as Snakes Alley. Here, and especially in the Summer months, many different butterfly species are attracted by the wealth of wild flowers. You might even come across the occasional snake!
The springs that run through Cucknell's Wood help to create the ideal damp conditions for alder to grow well. Around Snakes Alley, you can see how this species was grown and coppiced in the middle of the last century. We still coppice some of the alder and hazel today in order to produce fencing posts.