The Dorset Woods of Brain May – where are they and can you walk there?
Our county is rich in areas of rolling countryside, which is not surprising given that much of the county is considered an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). From Durlston National Park and National Nature Reserve at Swanage to Hambledon and Hod Hills to Blandford, Dorset is home to many stunning landscapes.
The chance that any of these areas could be linked to a famous person in any way is slim, if not impossible. However, for an area of Bere Regis, that’s definitely not the case.
Near the colorfully named village of Shitterton is May’s Wood – a wooded haven bought by rock legend Brian May. The Queen guitarist, known to be an avid wildlife advocate, first purchased the 157 acres of farmland in September 2013 in hopes of providing a wildlife corridor in the area.
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The 74-year-old has launched a long-term plan to transform part of Dorset’s landscape and allow wildlife to thrive and thrive. The land was once used for farming, but the musician, who is also an active campaigner against fox hunting and badger killing, wanted to turn the area into native forest.
Nearly ten years after Dr. May planted his first tree in the area, we take a look at what the forest looks like today and what his plans are for this land.
The rock legend, who also holds a doctorate in astrophysics, has long-term plans to create a woodland haven full of new trees that he hopes will benefit the local community and its future generations. From the first tree, which he planted in September 2013, the plan was to plant 100,000 trees and shrubs in 12 months.
The ambitious project is part of the musician’s Save Me wildlife campaign, where he originally called the wooded area “Save Me Woods”. It quickly turned into ‘May’s Wood’ after locals started referring to the area as a way to pay their respects to the Queen member.
The wooded area is divided into eight fields, each of which will have different types of trees. The range will include tree varieties such as oak, beech, chestnut, linden, wild cherry, spruce, Douglas fir, walnut and woody shrubs.
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Help the community
Dr May also plans to provide facilities for the benefit of the local community and neighboring villagers who reside close to May’s Wood. This includes the creation of a visitor center and information panels, as well as plans to bring the village school closer to the forest.
The plan was to position the local school next to the area of land where the trees will be planted. When the trees were first planted by Dr May, a local school choir performed The Woodland Song to celebrate the project.
Can I walk around May’s Wood?
May’s Wood is located south of Shitterton and stretches up to Black Hill, which is a walkable area. The area is said to be 2.5 miles and it takes about 1 hour to walk, depending on walking speed.
According to the Bere Regis website, this walk covering parts of May’s Wood should start and end at the Bere Regis car park. The advice is to walk up and through a gate leading to May’s Wood Plantation, and it’s unclear if the area allows dogs.
Although little is known about the woodlands, it is hoped that the area will continue to grow and develop into lush wildlife, which will only add to the existing rich landscapes of Dorset.
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