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England's Woods & Forests
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Secret Path

Create a brashed ‘deer track’ through an area of thicket stage conifer plantation or through a newly planted area. This idea is easy to implement and most sites have a suitable crop. It can be easily relocated once the trees have matured and the under-storey is too open.

How to build

  • The path shown here was created by three staff at Haldon during a lunch break; it is about 50 m long and winds through an area of dense Douglas fir. Trees were partially brashed to create a tunnel with trimmed branches being placed to define the path edges. Special care was taken to remove branches at eye level. The line of the winding path was laid out to disorientate the user, but kept them within shouting distance of the main path. The entrance and exit have been marked with a simple structure to invite use; entering and exiting from a dark plantation was a key part of the experience.
  • Make sure the path is checked often as quite quickly alternative routes can develop leading many people to get seriously lost.
  • Small pieces of marker tape, sculptural elements on the path side or in the trees will reinforce the route.
  • Adding brash at key locations can make the route clearer.
  • Consider bridging exposed roots with additional soil or other suitable material to reduce trip potential.
  • Relocating the path is an inexpensive way of creating new features for regular visitors.

Useful contacts

  • Andy Frost produces some very simple wooden creatures that can be fixed to trees.
  • See also ‘Idea 15: Brash-lined path’.
Last updated: 8th March 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.