I started walking to the wood across the field by St Michael’s Church. The grass has recently been cut and looks splendid. This field has been used by Daws Heath people for recreation and events since well before the original St. Michael’s arose in 1920. In those days it appears to have been known by locals just as “the field”. It is owned through St Michael’s by the Church Commissioners.
The Daws Heath Fayre and Essex Wildlife Trust’s Bluebell Day are the biggest events to be held here annually. The field, Pound Wood, Tile Wood and Tylerset Farm were once the property of the Dean & Chapter of Westminster Abbey going back to at least the 13th century. It is thought that the field was once woodland.
Pound Wood was bought in 1993 from the Church Commissioners by Essex Wildlife Trust who re-introduced coppice management to encourage the health and biodiversity of the wood. There is an occasional bench or somewhere to sit, a number of rustic seats being commissioned by relatives in memory of people who loved walking in the woods.
You will find signage in several places. Pound Wood is nearly 57 acres (23 hectares) and contains a variety of tree species including sweet chestnut but basically it is a hornbeam and oak wood like Tile Wood across the road.
Each coppice plot in Pound Wood has been given a name by the Warden, David Harris. The woodlands of Daws Heath were renowned for the quality of their hornbeam charcoal. It was very popular with the gunpowder industry at Waltham Abbey, Lea Valley and Barking. Guy Fawkes and the other plotters are believed to have obtained gunpowder from that East London area. Hence the wonderful idea for naming this coppice.
There is one public bridleway which circles through Pound Wood. Otherwise all cleared paths are permissive, provided by the Essex Wildlife Trust for comfortable walking and to prevent damage to the wood’s most important and rarer species of flora and fauna.
Look out for Charcoal Corner, so named as it is close to the charcoal kiln area. The Charcoal Kiln can been seen and the Essex Wildlife Trust re-introduced charcoal burning to Pound Wood in the winter of 1997. The resulting charcoal is sold in small bags and assists the funding of Trust activities.
The signs for the Little Valley Project and Digby’s Dell are self-explanatory and interesting to read. Again, there is a nature trail to be followed.
After your circular walk you will be back at St. Michaels’s field.