Bought in 1995 by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust with support from the National Forest Company, the 27ha of Charley Woods actually consists of two woodlands in Charnwood that are separated by a meadow. Previously inaccessible to the public except by public footpath, the site is now open to the public and managed as a nature reserve.
The two woodlands are very different. Cat Hill Wood is documented as far back as 1260, but part of the wood has been cultivated as farmland. Although more recent, Burrow Wood still dates back to the mid-1500's and has been managed as a plantation for the last 150 years. Sycamore is gradually being removed from the woods to allow native trees species to thrive.
The field between the woods is being managed by natural regeneration. To achieve this, the field edges were harrowed to break the surface, encouraging plants to spread from the adjacent woodlands. Oak saplings have already self-seeded and have been protected from rabbit grazing by tree shelters. The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers has been involvde in site management, including timber extraction by shire horse and the reinstatement of dry stone walls around the site.
A leaflet is available from the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust.