About the site
At over 80 hectares Crab Wood Local Nature Reserve is a fine example of ancient coppiced woodland. It is a popular place to relax and view woodland wildlife. Families can use a level, mown, grass area for picnics and ball games and barbeque on the free family grill. While nature enthusiasts can explore further into the woods looking for its secretive inhabitants.
Near Sparsholt, Winchester
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.
Central Area Office, Crabwood Depot, Sarum Road, Winchester, SO22 5QS
Phone 01962 860948