Introduction: These two "woods", managed by Horsham District Council, are very different in character. Leechpool is a mixed woodland of ancient origin whilst Owlbeech is restored heathland. Visit Owlbeech Woods at the right times of year and see the hebridean sheep, cattle and llamas that carry out the management grazing on the site.
Location: near Horsham, West Sussex
What can I do? You can walk one of the five waymarked paths of different lengths that take you throught different habitats. Walk the sculpture trail which celebrates the wildlife that can be found and features sandstone sculpture and huge woven willow structures, slowly decaying into their surroundings.
What can I see? A variety of butterflies including the Silver studded blue which has been recorded at this site. A vareity of dragonflies around the wet areas as well as reptiles and amphibians and a variety of heathland and woodland habitat birds such as siskins and woodlarks.
What can I hear? Crossbills moving in the tops of trees, nightjars churring on summer evenings. In the spring and summer the beautiful song of the woodlark can be heard across the heathland.
Information available? A site welcome board and a site leaflet help you to explore the habitats at Leechpool and Owlbeech.
Grid reference: TQ200315(OS Map)
OS map: 134 (Explorer, 1:25,000)
Opening times: All year
Terrain: Numerous surfaced and unsurfaced paths criss-cross the two woods. Boardwalks, bridges and steps are present in numerous locations to help visitors around the site, but some paths can still be muddy in wet weather.
Nearest train station: Horsham (mainline) 1.5 miles
Nearest NCN route: Route 20 is 4.7 miles
Where can I park? Free car park off Harwood Road, and parking also available next to South Holmes Play Area.
Where can I get further information? Horsham District Council website
Site Enhancements 2009 - 2012
A very wide range of habitat restoration and improvement works were carried out between 2009 and 2012. The special heathland habitat at Owlbeech Woods was for wildlife through removal of invasive birch, bracken and rhododendron, by both contractors and volunteers. Ongoing grazing management of the heathy vegetation is undertaken by Hebridean Sheep; assisted at times by Llamas to help keep inquisitive dogs at bay!
Numerous paths throughout both Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods were improved for easier visitor access: with boardwalks and bridges built, steps constructed and surfacing laid. Coupled with other enhancements, these access improvements saw visitor numbers soar.
One very noticeable enhancement was the installation of a temporary sculpture trail, developed in partnership with Same Sky Arts Cooperative, and including sculptures created by pupils from neighbouring schools. The trail has its own leaflet, downloadable here.
Three interpretation boards were installed around the site: to guide visitors around the four, colour-coded, waymarked trails; and to interpret some of the typical wildlife that visitors might see on a site walk.