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Neptune wood

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

Neptune Wood was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. The project involved primary schools, youth organisations, community groups and the general public in the planting of 4.5 hectares of agricultural land. Over 10,000 oak trees were planted to commemorate the tens of thousands of trees used to construct naval vessels. 

Neptune Wood

The trees are a combination of French, Spanish and British oak and the woodland is also part of our forestry reseach into this species. 

HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship, was built of wood from over 5,000 oaks and the entire fleet of 27 ships contained around 50,000 oaks, representing roughly two million years of tree growth.

A community woodland

Children from Cranford House School near Moulsford planted and weaved a giant willow sculpture of the 19th century battleship HMS Neptune, the woodland’s namesake. This replica stands at 14 metres in length - a quarter of the size of the real ship - and is one of four nautical structures that were constructed during the week-long project which involved over 200 children and used 1400 willow rods.

Green willow working takes advantage of the flexibility and quick establishment of willow. The 2m long rods that are used don’t have roots. Once planted, they are bent over and weaved together to form a structure that within a couple of years becomes very rigid. The willow re-grows and needs annual pruning and re-weaving.

How to get to Neptune Wood

The car park for Neptune Wood is on Little Wittenham Road, the road which runs between Little Wittenham and Long Wittenham villages, and has space for approximately 6 cars. The area has woodland trails with fully disabled access, interpretation boards with information about the trees, and willow sculptures.

Seasonal highlights

  • The willow sculptures look strongest in March when the leaves are just pushing through and the sculptures have been re-woven and trimmed to show their original form.