North Wood - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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North Wood

North Wood is that area of The Heath that is within the north portion of the Kenwood Estate boundary, just off Hampstead Lane.
There is a pleasant path through it and it can be reached from either The West or East Lodge entrances to Kenwood House or from the top of Kenwood's West Meadow

The area of wood to the west of East Lodge Gate was known as Prospect Hill.

Walking from the Kenwood end of The Wood, visitors may discover the graves of two dogs, on the left, just beyond the fence.

(see the City-Of_London Map to establish its exact whereabouts)

North Wood (just over 12 acres) predominantly consists of beech and sessile oak, with occasional Scots pine, all of which thrive on the free draining Bagshot Sands.

The Wood extends westward into Barnet.

It was added to the Ken Wood Estate by the 2nd Earl of Mansfield in l793.

The Southern part of the Wood, below Prospect Hill, is ancient and is all that remains of ancient woodland.

The old and overmature trees provide an important dead wood habitat for a range of invertebrate species including the nationally rare jewel beetle (Agrilus pannonicus) whose larvae develops in and under the bark of oak.

North Wood has a high proportion of secondary woodland of comparatively recent origin and suffered badly from a vigorous "spring clean" in the 1970s which resulted in the removal of much dead wood.

The 1987 Storm brought down more than l00 mature trees in Ken Wood  and North Wood.

However, this presented a unique opportunity to investigate the ages of the trees by counting their annual growth rings.

The majority of trees in the southern part of North Wood were found to be over 200 years old and must be among the oldest trees in the area.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Rhododendron ponticum and cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) were extensively planted as game coverts. They cast a dense shade and their leaf litter,which contains phenols and tannins, poisons the soil.

This has resulted in the widespread suppression of other species.

Another problem affecting tree regeneration is the presence of a large population of rabbits which eat the young seedlings.

The presence of muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) has also recently been confirmed from droppings found in the Wood.

The Old Quarry in North Wood

Just to the north side of the Old Farmhouse is the remains of a quarry.

This was a source of sand for the Kenwood Estate when it was a residence supported by gardens and set in parkland with carriage drives.
Sand was used to lighten soils and to maintain path and drive surfaces rutted by rain and slope movement.

It was also used in all building work on The Estate.

Active use of the quarry ended last century.
Plans are being made, however,  to cut a sector of the slope in order to expose a visible outcrop of Bagshot Sands.

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