Neptune Wood was created in 2005 as part of a nation-wide project to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and death of Nelson. It is named after HMS Neptune.
Bringing History to Life
To celebrate the 200th anniversary, The Woodland Trust embarked on a national project to plant one woodland for each of the 27 ships of the British fleet. Trees and timber played a crucial part in our maritime past; the ships of the British fleet were built using oak which was strong and plentiful. HMS Neptune was the third ship of the line and is renowned for towing Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, into Gibraltar with Nelson’s body on board.
Our woodland, Neptune Wood, was the second largest woodland in this project. Between January and March 2005 more than 10,000 oak trees were planted, representing the tens of thousands of trees used to construct naval vessels.
Earth Trust and the Community
All of the trees in Neptune Wood were planted by local people, including 750 school children from neighbouring communities. It was a fabulous example of community engagement – a theme that is at the heart of all Earth Trust projects. By planting trees with the children of today, the project aimed to bring history to life, to forge a link with the past through practical action and to breathe new life into our landscapes.
As well as planting these trees, Earth Trust also built a series of maritime-themed willow sculptures which can be found in the open area between the car park and the wood. They represent: HMS Neptune, three cannonballs, a telescope and an anchor.
In the arboretum area adjacent to the oaks, we also planted every species of tree that was used in a ship of Nelson’s time. From Alder (which helped to keep gunpowder dry) to Rowan (which was used to make bowls, hoops and barrels) you can see them all here! Within the figure of eight walk we planted approximately 8,000 Oak trees as a provenance trial (a research experiment looking at how trees are adapted to different environmental conditions). These came from Great Britain, France and Spain – all the countries involved in the Battle of Trafalgar.
In December 2005, Princess Anne officially opened this site and residents (and their dogs!) have been enjoying the area ever since.
Our Land Management Team, with the help of our volunteers, carry out regular maintenance in the wood. Visitors can all help take care of this special place by picking up after their dogs and taking litter home.
Please note: blue-green algae can sometimes be present in the pond in Neptune Wood. Blue-green algae can be toxic so please keep dogs on a lead and out of the water.
Parking: Dedicated car park, always open
Opening Times: Always open
Dog Walking: Dogs allowed when on the lead; dog bins located in the car park
Additional: Find us at Long Wittenham, OX14 4QT