Besselsleigh Wood

Nestled between Appleton village and Besselsleigh hamlet lies a hidden gem for nature lovers. Over 10 hectares of oak, ash and hazel woodland under community stewardship, Besselsleigh Wood delights visitors with its diversity: glimpse rare butterflies fluttering at a sunny ride’s edge, spot roe deer on a woodland trail, or simply take joy in carpets of bluebells each spring.

Managed by dedicated local volunteers and supported by Earth Trust experts, ongoing nature recovery efforts here aim to balance public access with sustainable timber production and – most importantly – nurturing vital habitats. Meandering paths allow enjoyment no matter the weather.

What to see 

Seasonal transformations make every wander rewarding, whether you hope to see butterflies, fungal fruiting bodies or a carpet of bluebells. Nineteen butterfly species flutter through sunny glades, including rare white admirals, purple emperors and purple hairstreaks. Sixty varieties of fungi and 175 species of moth have been logged too. Ancient woodland indicators like wood sorrel, bluebells and pignut plants hint at this landscape’s long history. The recently formed ‘Green Appleton’ group have put in fixed camera stands for you to use to take a photo which can be uploaded on to the Green Appleton website. This exciting project will generate a log of the changes that take place over the months and years.

History

Besselsleigh Wood’s continuity as a wooded landscape stretches back over 400 years. Evidence remains in the rich mix of species present, with plants, lichens and invertebrates that rely on long-established habitats. We aim to uphold this heritage through sensitive, sustainable management benefiting both biodiversity and local community access.

Caring for this special place 

As a community woodland leased by Vale of White Horse District Council, local volunteers are crucial in Besselsleigh Wood’s stewardship. Regular work parties help maintain paths, remove invasive species, and complete other habitat enhancement tasks. We also conduct wildlife monitoring, organise educational events, and liaise with partner groups to continually improve our care for this beloved local resource.

Want to get involved? Find out about volunteering with us