Region: South West
Wellesley Woodlands comprise 110 hectares of beautiful woodlands, wildlife habitats and lakes interlinked by footpaths and canal-side walks. These former MoD woodlands are divided into two main blocks, Dukes Wood to the west and Lake and Canal Side to the east. Separate from these blocks, to the south of Thornhill Road, are two smaller woodlands Thorn Hill and Heather Hill. This large and easily accessible natural greenspace provides plenty of opportunities to explore, enjoy and share in the rich diversity of the local Wellesley countryside.
Bourley Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1QA
Site size: 110 hectares
Duke's Wood has four car parks: ● Fleet Road (for Claycart) GU11 2HL ● Laffan's Road (for Wharf Plantation) GU11 2RE ● Bourley Road (for Rushmoor Bottom) GU11 1QA ● Claycart Road (for Wellington Statue – not 24 hours) GU11 1QA. Lake and Canal Side has one car park: ● Camp Farm Road (for Chalk Farm Lake) GU11 2PE
There are 6 short waymarked trails within Duke’s Wood (including 2 disabled access trails*): ● Chestnut Trail (1.6km - Claycart West) ● Oak Trail (1.1km - Claycart East) ● Beech Trail (1.5km - Rushmoor Bottom North) ● Plane Trail (1.5km - Rushmoor Bottom South) ● Holy Trail* (1km - Wharf Plantation) ● Birch Trail* (1.5km - Wharf Plantation). A seventh trail is located in Lake and Canal Side: ● Sycamore Trail (1.1 km around Chalk Farm Lake). In addition the longer Willow Trail (9.4km) runs from Chalk Farm Lake along the Basingstoke Canal towpath through Duke’s Wood to the Bourley Road Car Park and links to many of the other trails along the way.
Well controlled dogs are welcome in all parts of the woodlands with the exception of Chalk Farm Lake, as this is a fishing lake.
Picnic areas, sculptures, Wellington Statue, military heritage features (WWI and WWII firing walls, WWI Inglis Pyramid Bridge, assault course remains and a WWII pillbox), interpretation panels, bird and wildlife watching, orienteering, waymarked trails, brass rubbings trail, events programme and volunteering opportunities.
The majority of the woodlands are dominated by Oak, Birch and Beech, with localised areas of other species such as Scots pine, Willow and Alder. A number of non-native species including False Acacia, Western Hemlock, Cherry laurel and Rhododendron are also present. Several rides and glades with remnant heath and grassland, and a number of water features, are designated as Sites of Importance to Nature Conservation (SINC). The Basingstoke Canal SSSI with its associated wet flashes runs through or adjacent to much of the site. Stag beetle stumperies, bat boxes and a bat hibernacula have been provided.
The Alexander Observatory, Royal Army Physical Training Corps Museum, Aldershot Military Museum, Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, The Museum of Military Medicine, Alpine Snowsports, Runway's End Outdoor Centre, Basingstoke Canal Centre, Rowhill Nature Reserve.
Wellesley Woodlands is at the heart of Grainger plc’s award winning Wellesley design scheme to create a vibrant new neighbourhood on former military land in Aldershot, Hampshire including 3,850 new houses, two new primary schools, six restored listed buildings, a neighbourhood centre and additional leisure and community facilities.
The Section 106 planning obligations for this development included a requirement for an area of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) as mitigation in the context of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA) and this has created Wellesley Woodlands, which opened to the public on 14 November 2015.
History of Aldershot
Aldershot is steeped in history and is famously referred to as the ‘Home of the British Army’. The ‘Aldershot’ name derives from an Anglo-Saxon settlement in the area called ‘Alreshete’, thought to refer to Alder trees found in the locality, indicating the area was wet and boggy.
Aldershot’s transformation into a military town occurred as a result of the establishment of a temporary camp and training exercises held around the Chobham area in 1853. The success of these exercises led to a permanent camp for 20,000 troops of the British Army. Aldershot was selected due to its strategic location midway between London and the great port of Portsmouth.
10,000 acres of the infertile heathland was purchased to the north of Aldershot Village. The new camp as split into North and South Camps, divided by the Basingstoke Canal. Wellesley occupies a large proportion of the original South Camp.
A New Chapter
The remaining buildings, including the iconic Cambridge Military Hospital, provide a unique record of the development of military history from the 1870s to the present day. They also serve as a poignant reminder to those who have served in the army or are connected to the area.
The Land Trust is working in partnership with Grainger plc to maximise the benefits to local communities and wildlife from this significant public greenspace.
Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership (BVCP) has been appointed by the Land Trust to manage Wellesley Woodlands on a daily basis.
A natural partnership
“Building houses is not just about providing new homes; a good quality built environment can make a contribution towards economic development as well as improving well-being, social cohesion and skill levels.”
John Beresford, Development Director, Grainger
A key challenge for Grainger was the planning conditions for the new development, which stipulated a requirement for an area of SANG to offset any negative impact that the development may have on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
Grainger involved the Land Trust, to help them secure planning consent for the whole development, due to our expertise in providing sustainable solutions for land management and our reputation as a trusted organisation.
By working in partnership with Grainger, and having a shared vision for long term investment and sustainable place making, our involvement has enabled the project to achieve planning consent and secured the long term funding for the SANG.
This enables the Land Trust to manage the site in perpetuity, and has allowed us to create jobs for onsite rangers, develop and maintain the green spaces, including new pathways, trails and car parks. We engage with local residents, providing new skills, training and volunteer opportunities, making the site a focal point for the wider community, contributing to improved health, economic, educational, environmental and social benefits.
To contact the Land Trust about this site or how we could help manage your space please email our Estates Officer Steve Crosby .
To enquire about holding an event on a Land Trust site, please click here.
Download Orienteering Map 1 - Wellesley Woodlands Download Orienteering Map 2 - Wellesley Woodlands Download Wellesley Woodlands Brass Rubbings Trail Booklet Download Wellesley Woodlands Case Study Download Wellesley Woodlands Chestnut Trail (1 mile/1.6 km) Download Wellesley Woodlands Oak Trail (0.7 mile/1.1 km) Download Wellesley Woodlands Sycamore Trail (0.7 mile/1.1 km) Download Wellesley Woodlands Willow Trail (5.8 miles/9.4 km)
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