Harewood Forest is a lovely place to get lost in. The mixed woodland includes stands of oak, silver birch and planted Scots pines, interspersed with pockets of open glades which the dappled sunlight breaks through.
Historically the woodland was used for military training as evidenced by the concrete tank tracks traversing and shelters dotted around. On the Longparish side of the wood is a local landmark called Dead Man’s Plaque, a monument to King Athelwold’s death in 963CE.
The woodland on the outskirts of Andover is bisected by the A303, which creates woodland areas with very different characters. The floor has ancient indicator plants like English bluebell, yellow archangel, dog’s mercury and common gromwell as well as wood sage, spurge, primrose and bracken, important for some of its rare butterflies and moths. The glades in summer are patrolled by white admiral and silver washed fritillary butterflies, purple hairstreak butterflies are found higher in the tree top canopies,and the less colourful, but exceedingly rare drab looper moth is found perched on the flowers of wood spurge.
No matter how lightly you tread, as you traipse through the woodland you are likely to disturb roe and muntjac deer. In the fields bordering the woodland, brown hares hunker down in their ‘forms’, slight depressions in the ground to conceal them from onlookers.
Grass snakes, slow worms and common lizards are present in the forest , and in the past, so were adders. Hopefully one day these will be re-establish. Goshawks, impressively large birds of prey, were once common, although their numbers have now dwindled.
A fascinating place criss-crossed with public footpaths, Harewood Forest is well worth a stroll on a sunny day in any season.