One of the country’s largest surviving semi-natural ancient woodlands
Although part of Ryton Wood was lost to sand and gravel extraction in the 1960s, the wood has been returned to its present excellence though traditional management practices, and is one of the county’s largest surviving semi-natural ancient woodlands.
Arguably the best of the Princethorpe Woods, Ryton Wood covers 85 hectares, has been designated as an SSSI and boasts an extensive list of notable species.
Parts of Ryton Wood date back to the 11th century, so the land may have been wooded since the end of last ice age. Finding coppiced, small-leaved lime stools is evidence to support this. Once the most common tree 5,000 years ago, the species is no longer so common. Huge ditches also indicate the wood’s ancient, medieval boundaries.
Forty or so species of tree and shrub have been identified, with oak the dominant tree. An abundance of honeysuckle, our county flower, scrambles through the lower-growing hazel – enjoy its sweet perfume on summer days.
In Spring primrose, wood anemone and yellow pimpernel carpet the woodland floor. The rides though the wood are grassy and bright, bringing extra light for plants such as barren strawberry and common spotted orchid. Broad-leaved helleborine grows well at the dappled edges of the rides. In the large, clear glades there are fabulous bluebell displays.
For bug-lovers there is plenty of variety to be found in the wood plus its one of the best sites for butterflies in Warwickshire. Species to be seen include white admiral, purple hairstreak and silver-washed fritillary. Regular recordings of moths have recognised an impressive 570 species, of which four are nationally scarce.