Grid Reference: TG 393 061
GPS Coordinates: 52.600685, 1.5326706
Size: 1 ha (2.5 acres)
Owned By: Broadland District Council
Access Parking: Private – access by prior arrangement or during BADCOG work parties. Moulton Pit Wood lies between Beighton and Southwood, to the north of Southwood Road, southeast of Cucumber Corner. The site is accessed on foot from the road. There is no on-site parking. A parking space may be available on the north side of the road (part of the old road) about 100 m east of the site, immediately before the right-hand bend. Please do not obstruct the adjacent field entrance and beware of traffic when walking to the wood.
Main Conservation Interest: Woodland creation and development.
Conservation status: None.
Management: Managed by BADCOG since 1984.
Description: Where once there was an unsightly slurry pit filled with washed soil (‘washings’) from nearby Cantley sugar beet factory, there is now a small, healthy young woodland. The soil is enriched and supports a vigorous growth of hemlock, nettle and cleavers. These nutrients may remain in the soil for many decades, although with appropriate management to reduce plant biomass, and continued development of the new woodland, the effect of soil enrichment on the ground flora is showing signs of diminishing.
The pit was first planted up on 17 November 1984 with help from other groups including Norwich Friends of the Earth. Prior to this, the only trees on the site were a large oak and a poplar. A diverse range of native trees and shrubs has been introduced including ash, buckthorn, hazel, hornbeam, goat willow, spindle and wild service-tree. A boundary hedge has also been planted up around the wood. Early BADCOG records refer to this site as ‘Beighton Pit’, but it was later changed after discovering that it actually lay in the Parish of Moulton.
Due to the enriched soil conditions, some species and individual trees have been lost over the years. A programme of tree weeding, pruning, and replacement is ensuring the success of this woodland creation project. A glade has been ‘designed’ into the project to provide both structural and habitat diversity. A small, artificially lined pond provides a further habitat-type and is a source of drinking water for birds and other animals.
The overall management aim for the site is to establish a small piece of woodland in what is mainly an intensive agricultural landscape lacking in marginal habitats. At the early stage of development the main management requirement was to ensure adequate aftercare for the planted trees and shrubs. As the wood has developed, the rampant field layer of dominant herbs has become less vigorous and the tree care has become less arduous; the extent of mowing has been reduced to the single path network around the site and in the glade. In the longer term an option would be to introduce woodland plants typical of the area, as these are unlikely to colonise the site without assistance. Primroses, bluebells, and snowdrops have so far been introduced and are now spreading.
Moulton Pit Wood provides nest sites for several bird species including chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, robin, magpie and tawny owl.
When To Visit: In spring for trees in blossom, summer for woodland edge and farmland birds, and winter for flocks of fieldfares and other migrant thrushes.