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Cowleaze Wood is set high in the Chiltern Hills with amazing views over the surrounding countryside. There is a great mix of habitats in this small wood and plenty of paths to explore. The bluebells in late April and May are like a blue carpet and well worth a visit.

There is a great diversity of trees and a great viewpoint in the corner of the wood.

There is a grassy area suitable for picnics, ample car parking and a dog bin is provided for those walking dogs.

History

Halifax bomber

Tragically, on 31 March 1944 a Handley Page Halifax Mk III bomber aircraft, LW579 of No 51 Squadron RAF, was returning from the Nuremburg Raid when it crashed in the wood, killing all seven of its crew.

LW579 was based at RAF Snaith in the East Riding of Yorkshire and seems to have been at least 120 miles (190 km) off course. It was a clear, moonlit night, and it is not clear why the Halifax lost height and crashed into the hill. It was one of six aircraft that the squadron lost in the same night on the same mission.

There is a monument in the wood to the crew of LW579. It is a stone plinth from Lincoln Cathedral,9 now with the men's names inscribed upon it. In 2015 BBC Radio Oxford broadcast a documentary about the crash, the crew and some of their surviving relatives.

The night was unexpectedly clear allowing German fighter planes with anti-aircraft guns to attack. For more information click here.

What do other visitors say?

4 Stars 4 Stars

Great walk in and around the area, plenty of bluebells. Even the rarity of free parking. Great

Bazza, 8/May/2016
3 Stars 3 Stars

Went to see bluebells yesterday in Cowleaze wood as we have done for several,years and were disappointed to see they were not as extensive as in previous years. We also thought the trees were not in good condition, is there a problem? The brambles seemed to be thriving...

Anonymous, 2/May/2016

Thank you for your questions. The woodland is a natural environment and the flora does alter over time and in relation to changing light levels. The last harvesting operation removed a proportion of the non-native conifer and the woodland is reacting to the changing light levels. This has also favoured the bramble. We will be doing some work on small areas of bramble later in the year, to better see the bluebells.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

Bluebells have been largely replaced by brambles. The area needs to be better managed.

Anonymous, 2/May/2016

Thank you for your comments. The woodland is a natural environment and the state of the flora does alter over time. However we will be undertaking some work with volunteers to remove bramble in some areas to allow the bluebells to be better seen.

Forestry Commission Response
More user comments

Please tell us about your visit

Please email us at wendoverwoods@forestry.gsi.gov.uk if you have an enquiry or would like a reply to your comments.

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Last updated: 10th August 2016

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What's Here?

  • Arts
  • Educational
  • Picnic
  • Walking
  • Viewpoint
  • Fine views across the valley can be seen from the far end of Cowleaze.
  • Wildlife
  • The conservation value of this wood is low, due to its uneven age structure of trees and large numbers of visitors and their dogs. Red Kites are common in the surrounding area but have not yet nested in Cowleaze. Fallow, Roe and Muntjac can be seen roaming through although they are not resident. The wood covers 29 hectares and contains both conifer and broadleaf trees, all planted between 1957 and 1966. The most abundant tree species are European Larch, Oak and Beech. The three types of larch are found within this wood (European, Japanese and Hybrid).
More about what's here

Location

OS Grid ref: SU 726959
Postcode: HP14 3YL

Get directions

Contact

Wendover Woods Office

0300 067 4160 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings) 07796 313507 all other times
wendoverwoods@­forestry.gsi.gov.uk
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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.