Set within the parish of Paddock Wood, Foal Hurst Wood was neglected and almost forgotten until Paddock Wood Town Council purchased it for the people of the parish in 1997 and work began to turn it into a community nature reserve. The Foal Hurst Wood Volunteers Group was formed in early 1998 and they commenced caring and managing the woodland for the entire community to enjoy. As part of the millennium celebrations Foal Hurst Wood was formally dedicated to the people of Paddock Wood on 3 May 1999 and the following pledge made to the people of Paddock Wood; ” As custodian of Foal Hurst Wood, Paddock Wood Town Council pledges the continuance of this ancient woodland for the people to enjoy both physically and spiritually”.
In view of its rare dormice population the wood is now designated a a Local Nature Reserve and comprises 29 acres of woodland and a further 11 acres of meadowland around the northern border. Within the wood there is a network of footpaths that take the walker deep into the heart of this beautiful place. In the spring there are primroses, early purple orchids and carpets of bluebells. Summer brings out the dog rose and honeysuckle, autumn provides a colourful array of fungi whilst winter reveals the true beauty of the tree. Birds thrive in the quiet of the wood, woodpeckers drum on trees to feast the grubs living beneath the bark while other smaller birds flit about the tree canopy and in spring and summer the wood is full of birdsong.
A wild flower meadow has also been created in the small field at the entrance to the wood. It is now mown as a hay meadow so that the flowers and grasses can develop and spread. in June the meadow has a good display so that the flowers and grasses can develop and spread. In June the meadow has a good display of flowers and later in the summer, crickets andgrasshoppers can be heard chirping late into the evening just as the bats emerge to feed along the woodland edges.
You can discover Foal Hurst Wood for yourself. The entrance is on the left hand side approximately 300 metres from the junction of Maidstone Road and Badsell Road, adjacent to Badsell allotments. You can walk to the entrance from the Town Centre (from Ringden Avenue) in about 15 minutes or take any bus going to Five Oak Green and ask the bus driver to set you down at the bus stop next to the entrance. Take a gentle stroll around the wood and stop and sit on one of the many benches dotted along the footpaths.
There is a very active volunteer group who help manage the wood, with tasks and projects such as hedging, coppicing, haymaking and monitoring and record the wildlife. They meet once a month on a Sunday during the autumn and winter, helping to keep the wood special for future generations. New volunteers are always welcome. No special skills are necessary only a desire to help manage the area.
The Wood is being expanded with new ponds, wildflower meadows and a community orchard.
For further information about the history of Foal Hurst Woods, please read this article by John Flashman.
There are updates on what is going on in the wood every month in their Newsletters, click HERE to see them.