There are a number of interesting features you can find in the Great Wood. This is an introduction to some of them.
The ancient beeches
Close to the picnic area are two ancient beeches, the girth of which suggests that they predate the commercial exploitation of the wood in the 19th century and are survivors of the original woodland of the 18th century. Sadly, the right hand tree is now dead and its branches removed. Click on the 1st photo to see a map of their location.
There are several natural glades in the wood and some which have additionally been cleared to replicate more closely the original wood pasture common of the area. Again, click on the photo to see the location of the main glades.
Along the boundary with the County School Camp, there is a line of closely-planted Hornbeams, probably datiing from the division of the land in 1811. Over the years, these have been both coppiced and pollarded. These are best viewed in the winter when the bare branches allow the scale and shape of the trees to be appreciated. Also look out for the pollarded Hornbeams in the camp area itself. These are much older and were not cut down in the 19th century like most of the Hornbeams in the Great Wood itself. Click on the photo for the location.
Where the geological layer known as ‘Reading Beds’ are shallow, such as near Cuffley Brook, acidic water has created subterranean passages through the underlying chalk – some may extend for many miles. This leaves characteristic ‘craters’, some of which are now dry but some still show the drain holes. Click on the photo for their location.
The old Parish Boundary
Just to the north of Cuffley Brook you can just make out a raised mossy bank running alongside the Brook. This is the original boundary line between Northaw and Hatfield Parishes and may have once had a fence along it. Click photo for location.
The Concrete Path
The entrance to the Great Wood in Carbone Hill is a concrete path, now much overgrown by nature and time. It was built during the Second World War to access an Anti-Aircraft position and features a number of tank traps, a remnant of the Outer London Stop Line, intended as the final defensive position for London should an invasion have occurred. Click on the 1st picture for a wartime map (look out for the River Somme!) and the 2nd picture for the location of the path.