Crab Wood Local Nature Reserve

Ancient woodlands of oak, ash, maple and hazel coppice, with a rich flora and fauna

Bluebells at Crab Wood Local Nature Reserve

About the site

Crab Wood is a fine example of ancient coppiced woodland. Visitors can bring along a picnic or enjoy the free to use BBQ site. Families can follow the story trail to find out more about this ancient woodland. Nature enthusiasts can explore further into the woods looking for its secretive wildlife.



Man has worked these woods for generations. These woods would once have been coppiced by the local farmer or even by roving woodsmen. Sometimes the woodsmen would camp out all winter; some even had their families with them. Coppicing is the traditional craft of harvesting woodlands. It is used to make a range of wood products such as hazel hurdles, tool handles, thatching spars and charcoal. Coppicing allows sunlight to reach the woodland floor, creating habitats for plants and animals. The cut trees are not dead but will resprout new stems that will be suitable for harvesting again in years to come. A worked woodland will have many coups (cut areas) that are harvested on a rotation. Butterflies particularly enjoy the temporary sunny glades created by coppicing.

In the past the wood was used for hurdle making in particular. In Hampshire's rolling landscape sheep would roam on the downs during the day but were 'folded' or fenced-in with hazel hurdles at night. This was often near a farmstead. It kept the sheep safe and meant their dung would fertilise the soil. Thus, the typical Hampshire habitats of chalk downland and hazel coppice were once interdependent.

Another frequent use of coppice products was for charcoal making. Lengths of wood were piled up over a slow burning fire, then covered with turf and allowed to smoulder for days. The result: charred wood - or charcoal.

Contact us

Phone 01962 860948

Email [email protected]

Central Countryside Sites, Crabwood Depot, Sarum Road, Winchester, Hampshire, SO22 5QS