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Ashmore Wood

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An intriging mix of hazel coppice, ancient woodland, conifer plantation and private woodland for pheasant rearing!


 

Ashmore Wood: or Stubhampton Bottom

Post date: Friday, 25 August, 2017 - 18:53

The Forestry Commission sign at the entrance to this wood says Ashmore Wood but the Ordnance Survey map shows it as Stubhampton Bottom. To be fair to the Forestry Commission the Ordnance Survey shows a small piece of the woodland at the eastern end as Ashmore Wood so there is some agreement!

This combination of woodland segments which also encompasses Fontmell Wood, Balfour Wood and West Wood constitutes one the the largest areas of woodland in Dorset. Despite its rural character and extensive open places Dorset is a bit short of real woodland. Like much of what woodland there is here it is managed by the Forestry Commission and is a mixture of natural broad-leaf woodland and areas of planted conifers. The conifers were planted many years ago when wood was a primary resource of building materials but now the trees are approaching maturity plastics and metals have taken their place and much of the timber is now worthless. With the benefit of hindsight it is such a shame so much natural woodland was lost to conifer plantation for no real purpose but all those years ago when it was done things were so different than today.

Despite the areas of conifers Ashmore Wood still retains a good deal of broad-leaf trees and there are extensive areas of hazel too that were once coppiced. Some areas have been opened up for the benefit of butterflies and other insects and it was here I stumbled upon the first Dorset record of the downland bee-fly. Overall the woodland has a fair mix of wild flowers and insect species and is well worth exploring, especially in mid summer when the paths are lined with common spotted orchids.

As with many Forestry Commission woodlands there is a well made pathway through the middle of the wood and is easily accessible but to either side the are steep slopes which I found difficult and would be beyond the capabilities of anyone who is less fit or less able. Overall, though, Ashmore Wood is well worth a visit.


 

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