Updated: Nov 14
Erlestoke is a place I've often driven through but never really stopped to take a look. It is a nice little village on the road between West Lavington and Westbury and as you approach it from the Westbury side, the road descends through some dark tree tunnels and you really feel like you are deep in the countryside.
Curiously, the Government has placed a prison on the outskirts of the village, which is built around the old Erlestoke manor house. The manor house was bought by the War Office and was a training school for the Special Operations Executive in World War Two. If I ever do end up spending some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, I couldn't think of a better place to be jailed. But one thing I also picked up from monitoring instagram is that the village also has a substantial wood which in late April through to mid May is home to substantial carpets of bluebells. So I got in my car and spent a morning exploring this fabulous woodland, capturing many pictures of these colourful spring flowers.
The wood itself is owned by the MOD, but up until the late 1700s was actually the location of the village. The local landowner moved the village to it's current location on the high street and created Erlestoke Park. While today it looks like a well established, wild wood, there is evidence of human activity with a dammed lake and at one time there were cascades and waterfalls.
There are plenty of walks within the wooded landscape and beyond, with well marked paths and tracks to aid exploring. This is a fabulous place to walk and I expect to be back in the future to do some more exploring.
Erlestoke lies on the B3098 between West Lavington and Edington. There is a small parking area directly outside the entrance gate to the wood (but don't block it !). Alternatively, you can park in the car park near Holy Saviour's Church and just cross the road to get to the wood.
The main tracks through the wood are wide and well maintained, although I would imagine some of the surrounding paths get very muddy in the wetter months.
If you walk through the woods and out the other side you will see other woodland all around. This is Hill Wood, Bitham Wood, Folly Wood, Coulston Hillside Wood and Baynton Wood. It is possible to extend your walk for mile and experience more of the wooded landscape in this area.