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Shut Heath Wood


Grid ref: TL 853 133

Updated 31/12/2023.

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This Essex Wildlife Trust reserve, just below the crest of the Great Totham Ridge, includes 23 acres of ancient woodland forming part of the Chantry Wood complex. The remaining 27 acres are arable land managed by a tenant farmer.

The wood comprises large oak standards with sections of sweet chestnut and hornbeam coppice, with an underwood of ash, elder and hazel. The eastern edge is wet, with an open glade and thick scrub areas, while the southern edge consists of secondary woodland of silver birch and hawthorn that has colonised the adjacent field edges. The Trust has resumed coppicing and created some open areas to rejuvenate the wood.

In spring, bugle, cuckoo flower, wood sorrel, bluebells, wood anemone, primrose and dog violet flower, followed in summer by yellow pimpernel, red bartsia, greater birdsfoot trefoil and wood sage.

Dragonflies and damselflies may be seen in the glade and, in July, glow-worms. There is lots of standing dead wood here which is valuable for invertebrates, and especially wood ants.


Leave the B1022 Maldon Road at Roundbush Corner, Great Totham, taking Mountains Road. After about 1200m take the first turning on the right (Tiptree Road), and the reserve entrance is about 400m down on the left with double gates at the entrance. Take care when leaving as visibility is restricted. SatNav: CM8 3ED.

Bus to Great Totham from Maldon or Colchester and get off at Great Totham post office. The reserve is 800m north.

Accessible at all times

March and April for spring flowers

© Susie Torino