The area extends in a south western arc from the ancient woodlands south of the Claydons, to the lower lying Shabbington and White Cross Green Woods. It lies adjacent to Upper Ray, and Brill & Muswell Hill BOAs in Bucks and the Brill & Muswell Hill, Otmoor and Oxford Heights East Conservation Target Areas in Oxfordshire.
Area Coverage: 5870 ha
Local wildlife sites: 27
BAP Habitat Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland: 334 ha
Lowland Meadows: 44.5 ha
Joint Character Area: Upper Thames Clay Vales, Midvale Ridge
Landscape Types: Wooded Farmland. The majority is rolling lowland with seasonal waterlogging.
Geology: Mudstone except for a thin vein of sandstone near Boarstall and a thin layer of interbedded mudstone and limestone around the base of Brill Hill.
Topography: Low and undulating. In the north of the area Finemere and Sheephouse Woods sit on the most westerly of a range of lower hills that extends across Aylesbury Vale.
Woodland – The area contains 7 ancient woodland SSSIs. There is a concentration of 4 ancient woodland SSSIs (Grendon & Doddershall, Finemere, Sheephouse and Ham Home-cum-Hamgreen Woods in the
north of the area). Rushbeds Wood is a wet woodland on the lower ground. In the south west are the Shabbington Woods complex and White Cross Green and Oriel Woods. There are numerous smaller woods designated as LWSs scattered across the area.
Wood Pasture & Parkland – Wooton Underwood Estate.
Lowland Meadows – There are lowland meadows at Bernwood Meadows, Shabbington, Whitecross Green Wood and Lapland Farm.
Calcareous Grassland – There is 1 calcareous grassland site, the railway cutting at Rushbeds Wood SSSI.
Ponds – The area contains many potential BAP habitat ponds including the area around Ludgershall.
Hedgerows – There is a good network of hedgerows throughout the area, and the area is a hot-spot for Brown Hairstreak butterflies.
Woodland – Management, Restoration
Wood Pasture & Parkland – Management, Restoration
Lowland Meadows – Management, Restoration, Creation
Ponds – Management, Restoration, Creation
Hedgerows – Management, Restoration, Creation
Archeology: There is ridge and furrow scattered throughout the area. There are 2 historic parks and gardens (Wooton Underwood and Middle Claydon) and a scheduled ancient monument at Ludgershall. The site is part of a much larger Mediaeval Hunting Forest.
Places to visit:
Bernwood Meadows (part of Shabbington Woods, SSSI), BBOWT
Boarstall Duck Decoy, National Trust
Finemere Wood, BBOWT
Rushbeds Wood, BBOWT
Whitecross Green Wood, BBOWT
The Bernwood Way starts at Brill and there is a good network of footpath throughout the area. For the Forestry Commission’s Butterfly Trail leave the far end of the reserve and follow the signs.