Updated: Nov 14, 2020
One of the first things I noticed about Penn Wood is that it isn't a wood. At least, not yet. In 2010 some 10,000 trees were planted and it will take some years for them to reach maturity. From the air, the site looks like grassland but from ground level the trees are tall enough to make this feel like a wood in the making.
The second thing I noticed is that the site is a great vantage point to see some outstanding views. You can see Cherhill White Horse and the Lansdowne monument (photo on the right) and to the right of that is Morgan's Hill - another Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve which is documented on this site. It is a remote site that is not easily found unless you actively seek it so a visit here rewards you with relative solitude, abundant wildlife, great views and the knowledge that this landscape will change as the wood grows. This feels like a special place, like somewhere that is different and has much potential to grow.
But go back a few years and this place has an unlikely history. Originally farmland is was used as a sand quarry in the 1930's and became a landfill site until the 1950's It was then turned to pasture for grazing until 2003 when a colony of slow worms was relocated to Penn Wood from a nearby development.
Arriving on site I followed a path around a small angling lake, which was surrounded by established trees and then came out into the plantation area where there are wide paths and many vantage points. I've heard that there is much wildlife up here including roe deers and badgers and it was easy to spot kestrels perching on the poles that are dotted around the site. It ended up being a very pleasant place to walk around on a bright summer evening.
Access is off the A3102 outside Calne. Drive up High Penn all the way to the end where there is a small car park.
More information and a reserve leaflet with a map of the site can be found here: Penn Wood
It is worth watching the video on the right to get a feel for the whole site in addition to the photos above. The video is filmed in ultra HD 4K video so watch it at the highest resolution.