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Brookes Reserve

59ac/24ha  SSSI (part)

Grid ref: TL 808 268 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

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This nature reserve, owned by the Coda Wildlife Trust and managed by Essex Wildlife Trust, comprises over 40 acres of ancient woodland and some 18 acres of former arable fields, part of which has been planted up with native trees. The woods are known locally as Brooks's Woods, and the reserve is named after Thomas Brookes, the 18th-century owner.

Most of the wood is ash and hazel coppice. Areas of small-leaved lime and hornbeam add variety, and there are also more than 20 wild service trees. A network of historic green lanes, one a bridleway, crosses the woods. Thirteen ponds and the wet surface are evidence of the chalky boulder clay soil.

Bramble, pendulous sedge and dog's mercury dominate the ground flora, with primrose over large areas. Some notable species are greater butterfly orchid, twayblade, herb paris, sweet woodruff, wood small reed, hard shield fern, narrow buckler fern and at least six different varieties of sedge.

Nuthatch, treecreeper and lesser spotted woodpecker nest on the reserve along with many summer migrant songbirds. Brown hares and large herds of fallow deer are often seen.

The wood is coppiced on rotation to produce charcoal and firewood


Between Stisted and Greenstead Green north-east of Braintree: from Greenstead Green the reserve is about 2km down on the right and from Stisted 3km down on the left just past Tumbler's Green. Park with care on the verge.

Hourly bus service Halstead–Braintree.

Accessible at all times. Car park is locked except by arrangement to discourage misuse.

For songbirds, a sunny morning in April/May; a warm summer afternoon for butterflies; early October for autumn colours.

Please keep dogs on a lead.

Please do not let children play near ponds as they could be dangerous. Please keep to the paths. Waterproof footwear essential in wet weather.

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