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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?

Hi is possible to use a metal detector at any forest?

Many thanks.

Alberto Ruiz, 12/Nov/2017

Thank you for the enquiry. We do not currently permit metal detecting on the public forest estate, unless part of a permitted project or group (e.g archaeology)

Forestry Commission Response

Why were the sculptures removed from the wood,growing up I used to love discovering them and would have loved my children to have the same fascination, and eagerness to discover them. I too miss the bluebells, a massive childhood memory of visiting with my late great gran. Nevertheless we enjoy visiting the memorial in the wood and enjoy the tranquillity.

Lisa, 16/Jul/2017

The sculptures were commissioned, installed and managed by an local arts charity. Unfortunately their funding situation became more challenging and the decision was taken to remove the trail from the woods. There are some sculptures at the Nature Reserve across the road.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

1. why has Cowleaze wood been so neglected? 10 years ago there was a sea of blubells. Every year they are getting less and less and have been taken over by brambles. It's heartbreaking. 2. there is a monument to an aircraft that came down after a bombing raid on Nuremberg. The information states "Nuremberg in East Germany". Nuremberg is not and never has been in East Germany. p.s. I may have a german email address but am a resident of thame. Would love to hear from you if you have time.

diane moertel, 7/May/2017

Thank you for your comments. I understand the disappointment about not seeing the bluebells, however Cowleaze wood is not neglected. Changes happen to plant communities over time. It is sometimes desirable to control one species over another but the decision must be weighed up carefully. Other species such as bramble provide important habitat for birds and small mammals as well as a rich source of nectar for insects. I apologise if the memorial information is not correct, it was not installed and isn't managed by the Forestry Commission but I will pass on your comments.

Forestry Commission Response
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Last updated: 2nd June 2018

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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.