Owning a Wood – the first few weeks

Owning a Wood - the first few weeks

Novice wood owners, Gordon and Enid Chambers, give their first impressions. After they'd finally "moved in", did it live up to expectations?....  

At the age of 70, where did the idea of owning a wood come from?   Was it from a childhood with huge walnut trees and an orchard in the garden, or  a lifetime of  fiddling with wood and woodturning for charity?  Or just a love of trees?  Or years of hunting for timber to feed our hungry woodburner?   All of that, plus a desire to help save the planet and to have a safe investment to leave for the children.  

The Woodlands.co.uk website did the rest and we soon found ourselves owning ten acres of mature mixed woodland in an area of outstanding beauty. We were pleased to discover we can park the caravan for 28 nights a year and spend endless days just going to the woods, yet we can still leave them for weeks on end if need be, since they have already survived 50 years without our help! 

Any of the above reasons for owning a wood could justify taking the plunge, but the first few weeks have shown that we have fulfilled all of those aims and more.  Like seeing deer at close quarters, hearing buzzards, seeing tiny birds flitting from branch to branch and glimpsing the occasional rabbit, hare or squirrel  and wondering how many badgers inhabit the many setts.  Wonderful to see new forms of wildlife like the larch wasp  - not quite so wonderful, but intriguing, to know which other insect made that irritating lump! 

Since our wood consists of 50-year old Douglas fir and Norway spruce, with small stands of older sweet chestnut and oak, plus a few large beech, the early weeks have meant much exploring and giving thought to which trees can be thinned to allow the best ones to flourish, especially the oaks in the middle of the wood.  How we bless the Forestry Commission planters who left some deciduous trees, rather than just regarding the cash crop as all that mattered. 

Most work so far has consisted of clearing winding paths and removing the stumps left from previous thinning so that older visitors can walk through safely and our tiny tractor can make its way through to clear rubbish and haul timber.    Much of the earlier trimmings (brashings) and some fallen trees may be left to encourage the abundant wildlife  which is part of  the constant delight of discovery – as is seeing shafts of sunlight giving trees ever changing appearance and turning the mosses and lichens into almost magical colours.  

Early on we constructed two stone tracks, held and levelled with concrete, (using limestone just collected from the wood itself of course!) so that we can drive the caravan straight from the old woodland track we share with three other owners.  Water was our next concern.    Imagine our delight to find that at the foot of a steep slope is a large cistern which provides drinking-quality water for a neighbouring farm,  but overflows profusely . 

What have we learned in these first months?   To be really sure a wood is practical, not too far  from home to enjoy and supervise, and not bigger than we can cope with; to recognise that, either there will be a lot of hard work, or be prepared to spend to get the  work done, which would partly defeat the object of ownership;  to leave sufficient resources after purchase to obtain essential tools or machinery, especially if one is older; to make contact with neighbouring owners and farmers, who can be surprisingly welcoming and helpful – our first caller was a local farmer who wanted to buy some chestnut for fencing !   Our solution was to offer him a 50 foot limb from one of our chestnuts, in return for him arranging for some of our conifers to be thinned . But most of all the first weeks have underlined that we can anticipate  years of surprise and pleasure from the trees, the area and the wildlife, all without damaging our precious God-given environment.   The biggest surprise has been how much freedom the wood owner has to make it a place of delight for the moment and a precious inheritance for the future.


I have just discovered your web site and found it very interesting especially the video’s and the stories that are told.

Have Bob and Alison found their wood near Monmouth – Sept 2010?


sian watson

16 May, 2014


Looking for partner/partners to purchase equal share of small woodland plot in the essex area, have no experience but willing to learn about the land.

Im looking at an acre to start with, anybody out there with the same interest please reply.

Thank you.


Mike k

7 July, 2013

Well done Gordon and Enid, thank you for the blog which my wife and I found very interesting, we hope events go well for both you and your woodland.

Regarding age both my wife and I are aged 70 and a bit creaky. About five years ago we purchased some acres in the weald of Kent, they include mainly Oak woodland, a fairly large paddock, and a lake of about 2 acres which I have stocked with Carp, Bream, And Tench.

We love it.

Lets hope that we all have a few active years ahead to enjoy our woodlands.

Peter Young

20 January, 2013

I am in Gloucester, and am looking for a wood within daily commuting
distance, hopefully 10+ acres of mixed hard/soft wood.. The aim is to
form a self sufficient community, off grid. Ideas ?

Ian Atkins

22 August, 2011

Anyone looking to share the purchase of 10 acres woodland near Monmouth?

Bob and Alison

30 September, 2010

support your country’s tourist trade! fab idea!


30 September, 2010

Hi All, we are very intersted in sharing the cost of a piece of woodland, for visiting with our motorhome (campervan)Is anyone interested in talking to us? Regards Bob and Alison.

Bob Farley

13 January, 2010

[…] follower of the Woodlands.co.uk blog, you will remember Gordon and Enid’s story from December 2008, Owning a Wood – The First Few Weeks .  Work is progressing and Gordon turns his attention to an oak stand that is in need of thinning […]

Gordon, great account – we identify with it all.

Zac – 28 days for personal use is a hard and fast rule (Caravan Sites Act). Your local planners will enforce it – they don’t like permanent places of residence in woods.

You are not even allowed to leave a caravan there when you are not there unless you are spending significant time working in the forest, or need the caravan for people who are.

You must remove it when the work is done. If your forestry work goes on all year round, you still are not allowed to keep a caravan there all year round.

What are your options ?

a) tent – there are some cracking ones now, almost like small houses – not the two sticks with a bit of string tied between them and a blanket slung over the top like I had when I was young. If you have a shed/hut you can store it in that.

b) camper van – but some woods can be hard to access by anything other than a 4×4, especially in winter.

c) take your caravan and out with you – see point (b) above! I have towed a small caravan along a forest track – even behind a landrover it is no fun :-(.

d) build a woodland shelter – great for the kids to play in, but you have be a hard-core forest dude/dudette to want to sleep overnight in one with your family!

e) drive home at the end of the day.

f) my prefered option – use a small fold-out trailer tent that you can pull behind your car.

James M

14 February, 2009

what a wonderful insight. thank you.

is the 28 days per year a rigid rule? do you think planning might be permitted for longer periods?



7 January, 2009

Enjoyed your summery and you have made me think it is possible
for some one my age (64)to succeed. All the best for the future

Geoff Silvester

29 December, 2008

Thank you for taking the time to share your events and usefull tips. Please come back and tell us more in the spring.


Stephen Wells

29 December, 2008

Thank you, Enid and Gordon, inspiration indeed. Whether we can be successful in following in your footsteps on our limited resources. We have a campervan and can perhaps link up with other like minded individuals with integrity and a dream but we will see. We are in south lakes but have friends in west wales – so here goes. God Bless for 2009. Win and Alan.

Win & Alan Sayers

28 December, 2008

Thank you for your lovely blog Gordon and Enid, many blessings as you continue to enjoy your woodland

Tracy Pepler

26 December, 2008

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