The Thicket is a 500 metre long narrow steep bank of ash and field maple woodland. It is home to a variety of native woodland animals and plants.
Along the Thicket you can enjoy a peaceful, woodland setting, watching and listening to the birds.
Location and access
The Thicket is located between St Ives and Houghton. Access is from two entrances at either end of the woodland off the Thicket path. A public footpath runs north from the western access before turning west across the fields. A permissive path crosses the site and returns to the entrance at the eastern end of the wood.
The Thicket is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs and some of the paths may become slippery when wet. Access up through the woodland is via uneven steps at each end of the site.
Dogs are welcome, but please keep them under close control so they don’t disturb any nesting birds.
History and wildlife
Old maps of St Ives show that woodland has covered this area of hillside for a long time. It is thought that such a steep slope on heavy clay was not suitable for cultivation and was left to grow trees. We can see from old ash "coppice stools" on the northern boundary that timber was regularly harvested from the site.
The presence of spurge laurel also shows the wood has been there for some time since it is considered an ancient woodland indicator. Its lime green flowers can be seen in late winter, providing welcome nectar for early spring insects. Sweet violet can be seen on sunny days in the spring or you may spot King Alfred's cakes growing on dead ash trees.
There is plenty of dead wood, left standing and in piles, which encourages invertebrates, such as lesser stag beetles. Many of those species provide food for birds, including green woodpeckers.
Please download our brochure [PDF, size unavailable]for a map and information about the wildlife you may see there.
Rangers from Huntingdonshire District Council’s Countryside Service hold occasional conservation work parties to look after the site and volunteers help to carry out practical tasks such as tree and shrub planting, vegetation management, litter picking and much more. You will need to be reasonably fit and prepared to get wet and muddy! The thicket is managed in conjunction with Holt Island Nature Reserve where there are regular ranger and volunteer work parties.
If you would like further information, please contact Russell Taylor (Volunteer Co-Ordinator), download an application form [DOCX, 61Kb] or pick up an application form from the Visitor Centre at Hinchingbrooke Country Park or Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.