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Visiting Ruislip Woods, Ruislip, Middlesex, England: declared a National Nature Reserve in 1997

Updated on May 15, 2013
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Ruislip Woods, Middlesex
Ruislip Woods, Middlesex | Source
Information panel, Ruislip Woods, Middlesex
Information panel, Ruislip Woods, Middlesex | Source
Ruislip Woods, Middlesex
Ruislip Woods, Middlesex | Source
Map location of the London Borough of Hillingdon
Map location of the London Borough of Hillingdon | Source

Rich, natural heritage on the edge of a great metropolis

It is known that there have been woods at Ruislip, Middlesex (1), since Medieval times; in fact, much of the county was formerly covered by woodland.

At Ruislip, added to the more usual practice of digging up trees to create agricultural land and eventually for building what were the London area's ever-increasing suburbs, there was the added factor of the building of Ruislip Lido, adjacent to the woodland, in the early 19th century.

In 1997, Ruislip Woods were declared a National Nature Reserve, in an area totalling 305 hectares. Their owners in past centuries had varied, among them the Knights Hospitaller of St John and Moorland and St Catherine's Manors. What has now come together in the National Nature Reserve were woods with various separate, names; these names have survived, some of which include: Park Wood, the oddly named Mad Bess Wood (2) and Bayhurst Wood.

Tree species present in Ruislip Woods include oak, hornbeam, silver birch, sweet chestnut, holly and aspen. Partly because of careful management which has proceeded for centuries, some of these trees are reckoned to have lived for 500 years. Centuries back, the woods were formerly hunted for deer and wild boar. Among insects, the common speckled wood butterfly's presence is significant.

The Woods are also noted for their bluebells. Another interesting feature is the presence of hundreds of species of fungi, which have been made the subject of special studies; a few of these fungi species are unique to Ruislip Woods in Great Britain.

Among bird species in Ruislip Woods, the elusive woodpecker is often identified. The Woods are also known as a haunt for bats, and a special group is involved in surveying the habits of this nocturnal creature.

At a Woodland Centre at Ruislip Woods, visitors may avail themselves of various, further information sources. An organization called Friends of Ruislip Woods exists to coordinate the efforts of regular visitors and supporters in the field of preserving and enhancing the natural heritage of this National Nature Reserve (3). For several decades, the Woods have also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are a frequent venue for educational visits.

May 15, 2013


(1) The former county of Middlesex continues to exist as postal area, while in local government terms Ruislip is situated in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

(2) The name is known to have been recorded in the 18th century.

(3) Further information may be viewed at the Website of the Ruislip Woods Trust:, or from the Trust's publicly cited telephone number: (01895) 235304.

Sourcing includes information panel (depicted), at Ruislip Woods.

Also worth seeing

In Ruislip itself, the Lido is a 200 year old reservoir, offering scenic walks.

Central London (distance: 22 kilometres); a few of the vast number of visitor attractions include Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace,Trafalgar Square, faced by Canada House and the National Gallery, Grosvenor Square faced by the American Embassy, the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westmister, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Briitsh Museum, Oxford Street for its shopping, and many others.


How to get there

United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available (approximate distance between Heathrow Airport and Ruislip: 10 kilometres). 'Ruislip' is a London Underground Station on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines. The H13 and 331 bus routes pass near Ruislip Woods. By road, both Ducks Hill Road - A4180 -and Breakspear Road North approach Ruislip Woods. You are advised that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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