Know before you go
Parking informationPark in the layby off the road and walk 750m
There are two paths providing access to Timberwood Hill (Charnwood Lodge) from the reserve. One follows the tarmac track from the entrance until it is crossed by a metal gate, at which point it turns left towards Timberwood Hill. The second crosses the field from the public footpath towards the tarmac track. There is no access to Charnwood Lodge along the tarmac track beyond this point.
This woodland reserve is just west of the M1 motorway. Follow Warren Hills Road north west from Copt Oak for about 1km. The reserve is found north of the road along a track (signposted a public right of way, approximately 750m) found opposite Upper Greenhill Farm. Please park in the layby on the main road and not drive down the track, as there is no parking available at the woods, and vehicles may obstruct work parties and neighbouring landowners.
When to visit
Opening timesAlways open
Best time to visitSpring
About the reserve
Charley Woods is at its best in the spring, when the woodland puts on one of the most impressive displays of bluebells in the county. The reserve is worth visiting throughout the year though, as a diverse mixture of tree species, coupled with plenty of standing deadwood, bring in a variety of woodland insects and birds. Star species include nuthatch, treecreeper and two native species of woodpecker (great spotted and green), as well as tawny owl, kestrel and jay.
The reserve is divided into three sections – two woodlands (Burrow Wood and Cat Hill Wood) and a field in between. All three areas are steeped in history and it’s worth putting aside a couple of hours to soak up the ancient, tranquil atmosphere. We are leading an innovative, long-term project on this reserve to let the field naturally regenerate into woodland – the perfect meeting of old and new.
Burrow Wood is an ancient woodland dating from the mid-1500s. It is dominated by pedunculate oak, with occasional ash and sycamore. The entrance to the wood, which is now very open, once contained mature elms, but only a few scattered elm suckers remain. The understorey is predominately rowan and holly, some of which rival the oaks in height and girth! Can you wrap your arms around them?
Cat Hill Wood is also romantically known as the Wood of the Wild Cats and was first recorded in 1260. The field between the woods contains a ravine which may have been the gated entrance to the priory. Cat Hill Wood is also dominated by pedunculate oak with large numbers of non-native species including sweet chestnut, sycamore, larch and pines.
We manage these woodlands to give our native and ancient trees the best chance of thriving, in the long-term turning the whole reserve into native broadleaved woodland. We are allowing non-native trees to die out naturally. We also maintain the paths and monitor many species of woodland birds through the bird box scheme. You can help us do all of this and more, by volunteering with LRWT or becoming a member.