Welcome to Hockeridge and Pancake Woods
Hockeridge and Pancake Woods are a showcase for the Royal Forestry Society. The highest standards of woodland management have won the site a Forestry Authority Centre of Excellence Award.
Sixteen tree species are grown commercially in the 74 hectare (180 acre) woodland. They include hardwoods like the area's traditional beech as well as as oak and cherry. Conifer plantations include Scots pine, Norway spruce, European larch and western hemlock.
The age diversity of the different stands enhances the visual and conservation interest of the woods. Through selective thinning and harvesting, the aim is to produce a final crop of hardwoods with some stands of pine. Specimens of 52 different trees are planted alongside the woodland rides. These are all labelled for easy identification.
It is easy to explore Hockeridge and Pancake Woods. Information boards, each with a map and a guide to the different trees, are located at three of the main entrances with another in the centre of the wood.
A large scale map is also available online.
The rich flora of the woods provide evidence of their long and chequered history. Ancient woodland flowers carpet parts of the woods in spring. The best displays are found near the old earthworks in Hockeridge Bottom. Primroses, bluebells, yellow archangel and tway- blade orchid can all be found here. Widespread felling early this century encouraged heathland to spread on the more acidic soils. Odd clumps of purple heather still border the woodland rides serving up a summer feast for bees and other insects.
Open rides provide sheltered sunny flight paths for butterflies. Thirteen species are found in the woodland. Common ones to look for include the speckled wood and peacock. The variety of trees provides food and shelter for many woodland birds. Mixed flocks of tits are a common winter sight. Sparrowhawks are frequently seen. All three species of wood pecker (greater spotted, lesser spotted and green) occur in the woods. Some trees are specially 'ringbarked' to provide the deadwood woodpeckers need for hunting
Discovering the past
Venture into Hockeridge and Pancake Woods and you will discover clues to their historic past. A centuries old bank and ditch which once kept out livestock surrounds the woods. The boundary between Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire can still be seen in Hockeridge Bottom. Mediaeval double banks topped with old hedgerow trees mark the line.
In 1954 Miss Mary Wellesley rescued the woods from neglect, replanting with hardwoods and softwoods. She introduced many 'fashionable' forestry trees, including the range of conifers which give the woodland its special interest. Today under the management of the Royal Forestry Society , the area is once again a working woodland supplying valuable timber for domestic and industrial uses.