TQ 48380 96307
Local Wildlife Sites
Ape’s Grove (Ep96) is known locally as 'Bluebell Wood' and is a wonderful semi natural ancient woodland. It lies to the west of Abridge Village and is accessed via a public footpath from New Farm Drive, Abridge. The wood is bounded by an impressive ditch and bank which encloses a woodland stand of mainly hornbeam coppice, with occasional oak and ash standards. It has a sparse ground flora due to the heavy shade created by a largely closed canopy. Despite this a spectacular carpet of bluebells still dominate in springtime along with dog’s mercury and the occasional primrose. The wood lacks any established rides with access via an informal single circular route.
There are a number of notable veteran trees within the wood including a number of large hornbeam and ash coppice stools. The stand out trees are a wonderful large wild service tree and an ancient field maple pollard.
Epping Forest Countrycare have been working with Essex County Council to make Ape’s Grove more accessible for walkers. This has involved building a boardwalk through a particularly wet area of the wood, building steps to help prevent the erosion of the ancient bank boundary line and building bridges over the ditches running through the wood.
Great Wood and Mutton Corner
Great Wood and Mutton Corner (Ep106) are, in fact, joined and form the largest block of woodland on the former Lambourne Hall Estate.
A small stream runs through both woods leaving a strip of hornbeam coppice on the north-western edge. The rest to the south (all in Great Wood) contains common oak and ash standards over hornbeam and hazel coppice. There are a number of ancient woodland indicator plants recorded in the wood giving clues to its biological richness and age. Banks and ditch earthworks mark the boundary of the wood although this varies greatly in character. For example, the ditch on the eastern side is massive whereas those on the southern edge are shallow and topped with hawthorn. An old ride system still exists within Great Wood.
Like the other woods in the area, a lack of recent management means the ground flora has been shaded out by the canopy, but dog’s mercury and bluebells still dominate in spring. There are areas of dense bramble. Where the canopy is less dense along the rides more herb rich species can still be found such as wood sorrel and violets.
Great Wood also has several ponds which add to the mosaic of habitats.
In 2010 Countrycare installed a bridge over the stream to aid access to the north eastern corner of the site. In 2011 steps were installed to protect the ancient bank boundary marker from erosion.