Wychwood Forest & Cornbury Park
Cornbury Park Estate includes the 870ha Wychwood Forest - the core 262ha is a National Nature Reserve and most of the rest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Wychwood is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland in Oxfordshire. The forest is notable for plants such as herb-Paris, early purple orchid, adder’s-tongue fern and autumn crocus. The forest is interesting in all seasons with plenty of striking tree silhouettes, lichens and ferns; there are also several calcium-rich ‘marl lakes’ abundant in insect life.
The current day woodland is a small remnant of the historic royal hunting forest (see 1815 map of Wychwood Forest). The Wychwood Project focuses on the former Royal hunting Forest of Wychwood, it encourages people to understand, conserve and restore its rich mosaic of landscapes and wildlife habitats. The Wychwood Project area includes 41 parishes, some 120 square miles.
The area of woodland was far more extensive as recently as 1857 when 10 sq miles of Royal Forest was taken out of Forest Law by a Parliamentary Act of Disafforestation. Ancient forest rights granted to commoners were ended and the commoners compensated. Within 2 years, 2,000 acres of woodland was converted to farmland and housing, with the timber felled from this acreage sold for £34,000. 10 miles of new roads were built. Seven new farmsteads were built, including King's Standing Farm. The parish of Leafield and its church dates from this time. The book, Rain and Ruin: The Diary of an Oxfordshire Farmer, John Simpson Calvertt 1875-1900 is a fascinating account of life on one of the new farms.
Circular Walk through the Forest
This 8 mile circular walk from Charlbury includes the only Public Right of Way through the Wychwood Forest. In April/May, the blubells are spectacular at Knighton's Copse along the path from the Leafield Road north to Chilson. (map).
Palm Sunday Walk
On Palm Sunday, tradition allows the public to walk through the Forest to Wort’s (or Uzzle) Well and Chalybeate (or Iron) Well, two ancient springs in Wychwood Forest, to collect water for making Spanish liquor. Access from Five Ash Bottom (see map) or the public footpath through the Forest (see map).
Chalybeate Well within Cornbury Park
New Years Day Walk
Cornbury Deer Park is open annually on New Year’s Day to Charlbury residents.
Charlbury and Finstock primary schools both regularly take children to Forest Schools held within the forest.
A permissive cycle route follows the line of the present footpath from the Park's North Lodge to Southhill Business Park and on to the Witney Road. The route is open to cyclists from Easter until the end of October and provides a safer alternative to the Fawler Road between Charlbury and Finstock.