Wilkswood (Langton West Wood)
This wood is also known locally as Langton West Wood but as it is signposted Wilkswood and the National Trust sign says Wilkswood that is the name I am using on this site. The ordnace Survey map has no name for the wood.
Wilkswood is ancient woodland; it contains many of the indicator species that one associates with ancient woodland including wood anemone and butchers broom. These are plants that spread very slowly and therefore colonoies of them that exist have often been in that location for many, many years. This particular woodland appears on maps that date back before 1800 and the woodland itself is almost certainly much older.
A stream runs through the wood which has steep banks on each side which form a wooded valley and that is why it has escaped agricultural improvement, it would be very difficult to farm this area. This also means that the paths are often very muddy and quite steep in places so, sadly, this is a site for the more physically able- bodied only!
The best time for any woodland of this nature is the spring, before the leaf canopy opens. The woodland floor is ablaze with golden lesser celandines, yellow primroses, white wood anemones and green dogs mercury. Birds are then singing as they feed amongst the scrub and early insects, especially hoverflies, abound. There are few better ways to spend a warm spring day than wandering slowly through ancient woodland and Wilkswood is certainly one of the best in southern Dorset.
See my species list and more photographs of Wilkswood here: