Leechpool and Owlbeech woods
Leechpool Woods is a site of ancient woodland. There are five signposted walking trails that cover different habitats, including a sculpture trail. Owlbeech Woods is restored heathland that supports a rare selection of flora and fauna. The combined woods cover 109 acres. Admission to both sites is free and they are open all year round.
A walk around Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods
Take a walk with us around Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods in our video below.
Leechpool Woods car park is off Harwood Road and is free. Free parking is also available next to South Holmes Play Area.
Middle Heath Enclosure
Closed from Monday 8th January 2024
From Monday 8th January 2024, Middle Heath will be closed for general access in order to protect the sensitive habitat and ground nesting birds who start establishing nesting territories from early in the year. We will be continuing our regular bird survey work in 2024 with a further review of this data taking place in August to consider the longer term management of this site.
Access across the rest of Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods remains unchanged.
Frequently Asked Questions
As agreed in spring 2023, we reviewed the initial decision to permanently close Middle Heath. We took on board public comment as well as carrying out bird surveys.
As a Council we have a delicate balance to strike between maintaining public access and performing our legal obligation to protect natural habitats and enable wildlife to flourish.
To facilitate this balance, the decision was made to re-open Middle Heath for the last three months of 2023, to allow people to appreciate the heathland habitat.
However, we recognise the wildlife value of the site and so it will be closed again from early January to allow rare ground-nesting birds to establish their nesting territories and to hopefully raise their young through the spring and summer.
Our survey work will continue to monitor the site next year with a further review to be undertaken next summer.
The initial survey results of breeding birds in this enclosure have been positive and indicate that the heathland is improving.
It is likely the extended closure during 2023 helped the increase the number of bird species observed in our surveys. However, we do need evidence from more than one year to base future management decisions on, hence our survey work will be on-going.
The enclosure has been grazed by our small herd of British Whites for several years at appropriate times of the year. Grazing helps reduce the vigour of invasive bracken and prevents purple -moor grass from dominating. It also helps create a mosaic of different sward heights which benefits insects and in turn provides better habitat for the ground nesting birds.
The cows will not be concerned around people or dogs, but we would again ask that all dogs are kept under control and that visitors do not feed or touch the cattle.
We will be improving the signage and information both on-site and on-line to provide information about the importance of heathland habitat and our management including animal grazing.
During the winter, we will be undertaking work to open up views across the enclosure for all to enjoy.
We have no immediate plans or suitable location identified for a dedicated dog enclosure; however this will remain under review as we move forward.
Middle Heath is not a dog enclosure, and while people and dogs will be permitted on the site at selected times of the year, we would always ask that all dogs are kept under control in this sensitive habitat in which wildlife is present year-round.
We would be pleased to receive your feedback via e-mail at email@example.com
As part of our on-going land management strategy, please be aware that grazing animals are used in Owlbeech Woods. These include cattle, sheep and domestic horses. They help to create and maintain the woodland and heathland habitats and the complexity of diverse scrubby ecotones between.
We would ask all our visitors not to feed or touch these animals.
In the event of an emergency or animal welfare issue, please contact 01403 256890 (office hours) or 01403 215100 (out of hours).
Volunteer at Leechpool woods
Horsham Green Gym is a nature conservation group run by volunteers with support from Horsham District Council. The groups meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at parks and open spaces around the district, including Leechpool and Owlbeech woods.
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