Michael Wood, Gloucestershire


Conifers and withering ferns
Peeling oysterling and yellow brain

Relatively large, slightly elevated area of mixed broadleaf and coniferous trees on an ancient woodland site, underlain by mudstone. A particularly good location for fungi
Damery Lane, 2.6 miles from junction 14 of the M5; GL12 8HB
Photo Tour (37 images)
Michael Wood, originally Mickle Wood, is a relatively large expanse of 20th century broadleaf and coniferous trees, lightly managed for timber, but on an ancient woodland site, underlain by neutral soils above mudstone bedrock (the Micklewood Beds) - a slightly elevated site, the land sloping down on all sides, most steeply to the south, where the wood is bordered by the Little Avon River. The surroundings are low-lying farmland, part of the Severn Vale, 15 miles north of Bristol.

Mickle is an old English word for great, and this 'Great Wood' was once much larger, extending another mile eastwards to Nibley at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment, and most likely a lot further north as well. The woodland is referenced in several documents from the 13th century and earlier. In recent times it extended one mile north to south, until construction of the M5 in the 1960s, right through the wood, leaving a small detached portion to the north and the main area to the south, now around 250 acres. The Michaelwood services are within the wood, near junction 14.

Despite its location atop a small plateau, the soil is quite moist and two small seasonal streams flow, towards the east and west margins. The wood also contains the long-disused Damery Quarry along the south edge and, close by, a medieval or possibly Anglo-Saxon earthwork, Damery Camp.

The Woodland

Michael Wood can be entered from various places along an unnamed lane to the east or via Damery Lane to the south, this running right next to the Little Avon River, or even from the southbound Michaelwood services on the M5. A network of tracks cross the flat terrain, allowing easy access to all areas. The majority of the trees are conifers but deciduous specimens are still numerous, beech the most prominent species. The undergrowth is light and the trees quite photogenic, so the wood is a relaxing place for a walk, and is particularly good for fungi in the autumn.

Sun on ferns
Sun on ferns, on the slope at the south edge of the wood