A visit to Savernake forest

Savernake forest lies just south of Marlborough in Wiltshire. It is the largest privately owned forest in England and has belonged to the same family for 32 generations since the Norman conquest.

The forest in November with brown bracken #Savernake forest

Last Sunday, the first in November we were able to enjoy a late Autumn  forest walk in Wiltshire. Our walking group met at Postern hill carpark just south of the town of Marlborough and enjoyed a five mile ramble through the woods. The weather has been unusually wet this Autumn so we kept to the well maintained gravel paths. Luckily the forest is mainly on a well drained chalk soil. We have not yet had any winter frosts so many of the trees had retained most of their leaves.

The forest was used for hunting for hundreds of years. It is close to where Henry VIII met his third wife, Jane Seymour. Her father Sir John Seymour owned the nearby Wolf Hall famous from the Hillary Mantel book and the eponymous T.V. series.

In the 18th century much of the land was planted with beech trees including Grand  Avenue designed by Capability Brown. Now the forest is managed by the forestry commission and is  designated as a site of special scientific interest.  It has one of the largest collections of veteran oak trees in the country. Many of which have been given their own rather unflattering names such as big bellied oak or old paunchy. The one in my picture is a saddle oak. At some stage the main trunk was cut allowing the side branches to grow. This would have been ideal for boat building.

A saddle oak showing the rounded shape needed for boat building

We had fun trying to identify the many types of fungus we saw and were also pleased to see a good quantity of lichen which indicates a very clean environment.

Fungus and Lichen an indication of clean air
Fungus and Lichen

Last Sunday was the first weekend after Halloween and I was pleased to see that some pumpkins had been left out for the wildlife. We were also surprised to encounter a Halloween fun run with entrants dressed as witches and other spooky creatures.

A present for the birds

Visitor information


Postern hill car park is open from 0800-1900 every day except Christmas day. There is no charge. There is also a nearby campsite. For more details click here

Postern Hill campsite

Here is a link to a BBC Countryfile walk with an interactive map.

Savernake forest walk

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk and I would love to read your comments .

If like me you enjoy walking in the woods during Autumn You might enjoy this post from last year about the national arboretum at Westonbirt 

Author: Anne Fraser

Hi, I am Anne, I am a retired nurse from Bristol in South West England. I am married with five grown up children, four boys and a girl , a grandson and a cat. I like History, travel and reading. I hope to connect with other people with similar interests.

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