This new nature reserve has seen many transformations in its history since it was farmland. It was bought by The Hills Group in the 1930s to be worked as a sand quarry and then used as an inert landfill site (holding materials such as bricks and rubble) until the 1950s. Following this it was restored to pasture for grazing livestock. In June 2003 we worked with Hills Homes to relocate 500 slow worms from Newcroft Garden allotments to Penn Wood to make way for a development. Hibernation mounds and heat traps were created for the slow worms, along with two ponds for frogs and toads – this area is now well established. Grass snakes and southern marsh and common spotted orchids are also regularly seen.
In 2010 we supported The Hills Group and local people in planting some of the 10,000 young blackthorn, oak, ash, lime, black poplar, downy birch and a few Norway spruce and Scots pine trees that make up the wood. Scattered between the saplings are poles where kestrel, buzzard and owls can perch and some of them have bat boxes attached. Roe deer and badgers already use the site. Look up to see skylarks, lapwings and red kite.
At the entrance a wildflower meadow has been planted and will be cut annually for hay. This area will be monitored and further flower plugs will be planted if needed. A fishing club uses the private lake.
If driving – From Calne town centre take Oxford Road towards Swindon. On A3102 from Swindon, take ‘Town Centre Only’ into Calne. Turn into High Penn – a track leading uphill. Follow the track uphill to the car park.
If using bus – bus 55 Swindon to Chippenham. About a 15 minute walk from the bus stop outside Calne Veterinary Clinic heading north on Oxford Rd. Before the roundabout turn right onto High Penn, continuing all the way to the end of the road, past all the houses. Reserve is on right.