Neptune Wood was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. The project involved primary schools, youth organisations, community groups and the general public in the planting of 4.5 hectares of agricultural land. Over 10,000 oak trees were planted to commemorate the tens of thousands of trees used to construct naval vessels.
What to see
This young woodland is already home to wealth of wildlife, such as butterflies, birds, rabbits and wildflowers. Four maritime-themed willow sculptures can be found in the open area between the car park and the wood – HMS Neptune, three cannonballs, a scope and an anchor. These were woven at the same time the trees were planted.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, The Woodland Trust, working with the Society for Nautical Research, embarked on a project to plant a new wood for each of the 27 ships in the fleet. Each Trafalgar Wood across the UK is named after a different ship. Trees and timber played a crucial part in our maritime past and planting these new woodlands, with the help of local children and communities, brought history to life.
Neptune Wood has also provided us with an opportunity to extend some of our oak tree research.
Neptune Wood is now more than 10 years old, and as such requires a little TLC! Earth Trust has plans to make the area more accessible for all and the first stage of this project was repairing the car park. At the end of 2016 we were awarded £10,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme, thanks to a public vote in local supermarkets, and this money was used to resurface the car park (using rubble from the building that was demolished at Thrupp Lake last year – how’s that for recycling?!). The new car park is now open though the surface has not taken as well as we’d hoped and it’s likely more work will be required.
The woodland itself requires regular winter maintenance and students on our Countryside Skills course enjoy giving the willow sculptures a haircut!
Neptune Wood has its own car park, with space for around 10 cars, on the road between Long Wittenham and Little Wittenham. Although it was recently resurfaced the material has not bound very well and it’s likely more work will be required.
The enclosed meadow next to Neptune Wood is very popular with dog walkers. This meadow is occasionally grazed by sheep, please keep an eye out for notices about footpath closures during this time.
WT Trafalgar Wood PDF says 5,500 trees planted.