Welcome to Rectory Wood
Rectory Wood is 70 hectares of new community woodland, created on former arable farmland on the slopes of the Clay Ridge on the eastern edge of Cranfield. Acquired in 2003, the site was the first to be bought by the Marston Vale Trust for woodland creation. Since then, the woodland has been planted in phases over several years, each phase with its own character and identity. The varied landform of Rectory Wood provides areas of level ground and hill top vantage points, offering long views across the southern Marston Vale, whilst the site’s greatly contrasting neighbours in Marston Thrift, an ancient semi-natural woodland, and the former Brogborough Landfill Site contribute to a diverse local landscape which hints at the area’s varied history.
Over 120,000 trees and shrubs have been planted at Rectory Wood so far, involving over 3,000 local people, with a final phase due on Plunder’s Hill in the next few years. Main tree species include Oak, Ash and Field maple, along with shrubs such as Hazel, Dogwood, and Guelder rose. Many areas were also sown with a native grass and wildflower mix, with Birds-foot trefoil, Ox-eye daisy and Greater knapweed producing a show of colour through the summer, and a rich source of pollen and nectar for insects such as Marbled White and Common Blue butterflies.
Rectory Wood is accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and mobility vehicle users at all times, with a surfaced circular route of over 2km around Brickfields and Legacy Thrift and a network of mown grass routes, recreation areas, and marked trails for horse riders. National Cycle Network Route 51, coming from Milton Keynes also passes through the site before heading onto the Forest Centre, up to Bedford and onto Sandy. All access routes connect to an extensive network of public rights of way through the site and out in to the wider countryside. Access from Cranfield is via Rectory Lane and Holywell Road. Site information boards, picnic tables, benches and other features are also available to help users make the most of their visit. Road side parking is possible in Cranfield, and at Marston Thrift car park, Wood End.
Rectory Wood’s new habitats also include small lakes and ponds, resulting in a diverse environment in which wildlife is thriving; with Skylark, Brown Hare and Great Crested Newt notable species. Abundant small mammals take advantage of the rough grassland cover, their presence confirmed by the hunting activities of Kestrel and owl species. Buzzards too can often be seen soaring high above on the thermals.