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Hayley Wood

Trees have been removed from the coppice plots in Hayley Wood this winter in order to let more light into the woodland floor. For more information click here

An ancient coppiced woodland with a fantastic display of oxlips in the spring

This coppiced Ancient Woodland is a treasure trove of spring flowers – particularly the nationally rare oxlip. It is where one of Britain’s best known historical ecologists – Oliver Rackham – developed the concept of ancient woodland. As well as woodland plants, Hayley Wood is host to hundreds of species of fungi and thousands of insects and birds. 

As you walk up Hayley Lane to approach the wood, the hedge on your left is thought to be at least 800 years old. In the winter it is thick with berries that sustain fieldfares and redwings. At the end of the lane is the former Cambridge to Bedford railway line, built in 1863 and abandoned in 1969. It has now been colonised by a variety of wildflowers and grasses. Oak, ash, elm, maple, hazel and aspen are the most common. The oldest are ash and maple coppice stools with multiple stems arising from gnarled bases. 

The main ride is a flower-filled corridor between acre-sized coppice plots. These plots show the gradual progress from freshly cut areas to dense young growth through to shady grove. There are also archaeological clues that hint at times past. At the centre of the wood is the roundabout, a historical turning point for teams of heavy horses when extracting timber, and now the site of an information hut which explains more of the history of the site. 

We erected a fence around much of the wood to protect the woodland plants and coppice regrowth from the ravages of deer browsing. Although not in keeping with the landscape, it has reversed 20 years of decline in the oxlip population for which the wood is so famous.  


The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.

Nearby nature reserves

Waresley & Gransden Woods
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Gamlingay Wood
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Cambourne Nature Reserve
4 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

On south side of B1046, 1 mile west of A1198.
Little Gransden
CB23 2UR
Map reference
TL 294 537
Great for...
a family day out
ancient trees
historical interest
spring flowers
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
52.00 hectares
Ancient Woodland
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
West Cambridgeshire Hundreds
Good paths and wide main rides; can be very muddy in winter.
Walking information
Good paths and wide main rides; can be very muddy in winter. Numerous fences and gates with single steps. Tower hide with ladder access
Park opposite the water tower and walk 300m up Hayley Lane to reserve
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Tel: 01954 713500


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