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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.


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?

5 Stars 5 Stars

Went to Cowleaze Wood today with my partner to finish off a day out in the Chilterns by taking a walk through the wood to see if we could spot any Tawny Owls (have seen a lot there near the picnic area in the past sitting on the fence adjacent to the field) we arrived about 4pm to find the car park locked which was a bit of a shock as it was daylight - it would seem it has been locked all day because there were cars parked in the entrance and all along the road. This is dangerous at this is a fast road where the 60MPH national speed limit applies. Why was the car park locked during daylight?

Victor Williams, 15/Oct/2016

The car park was not planned to be closed, apologies and we are investigating this. However we do very occasionally need to close for safety or maintenance reasons. There is car parking further down the road at Aston Rowant Nature Reserve.

Forestry Commission Response

The car park is locked!!! Why???

Pippa Wheatley, 15/Oct/2016

The car park was not planned to be locked during the day, and we are looking into this. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Had a lovely walk there today, first time. It's a half way point between myself and a friend so we'll be back. Only negative was I lost my only pair of prescription sunglasses on the walk. They fell out of my pocket. So if by any chance they get found please post here.

L Hilton, 5/Oct/2016

If we find them we will be in touch.

Forestry Commission Response
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Last updated: 28th November 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


OS Grid ref: SU 726959
Postcode: HP14 3YL

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Wendover Woods Office

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