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About Ruislip Woods

Ruislip Woods is a National Nature Reserve of ancient semi natural woodland in Hillingdon, London. It is the largest area of woodland in London covering 755 acres and provides a haven for a variety of wildlife and tranquil footpaths for visitors to explore. Ruislip Woods has Green Flag and Green Heritage Status.


Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve is ‘ancient semi natural woodland’ and some parts are a remnant of the Wildwood that once completely covered England after the last ice age, about 8,000 years ago. When the land was first cleared for agriculture some woodland was left to provide timber and firewood. In the case of Ruislip Woods the native trees are oaks and hornbeams. Coppicing of hornbeams is known to have occurred for over five centuries up to the 1930’s but it steadily reduced thereafter and ceased by the 1950’s. Coppicing restarted in 1982 and, once more, the woods are actively managed for conservation and recreational purposes.

The Woods Today

Ruislip Woods consists of Bayhurst Wood, Copse Wood, Mad Bess Wood, Park Wood, Poor’s Field/Ruislip Common, the Ruislip Local Nature Reserve, The Northern Finger, Grub Ground, Tarleton’s Lake and surrounding land in Hillingdon. Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve, at 305 hectares or 755 acres, is the biggest single area of woodland in Greater London. Park Wood is one of the largest ancient woods in England in a completely semi natural state.

The woodland is predominantly hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) coppice with oak standards and is interesting because of the occurrence of both pedunculate oak (Quercus Robur) and sessile oak (Quercus Petraea). The mixture of hornbeam and beech (Fagus Sylvatica) in Bayhurst Wood is also unusual and wild service trees (Sorbus Torminalis) can be found throughout the woodland. The Woods have magnificent displays of Bluebells in the Spring – please do not tread on them, even for a great photo. Trampled Blue Bells take at least 5 years to recover.

The Woods are owned and managed by Hillingdon Borough Council. The Ruislip Woods Trust works alongside them to provide support for the protection and preservation of the Woods and administrate the Friends of Ruislip Woods, giving the public the opportunity to learn more about the Woods and support the conservation of this precious resource. Please try and keep dogs on leads on the open areas in Spring/ early summer to protect ground nesting birds and on Poors Field when there are cattle grazing.

National Nature Reserve Status

Since 1982 Ruislip Woods have been actively managed. The purpose of this active management is to foster a greater diversity and richness of species and habitats and to maintain those habitats that make this area so interesting biologically. English Nature have studied the improvement in the variety and quality of those habitats and awarded Ruislip Woods the status of a National Nature Reserve (NNR) on 21st May 1997. Ruislip Woods was the first NNR in an urban area in England.  As Ruislip Woods is semi-Ancient Woodland and is a National Nature Reserve, Fungi picking is illegal. 

Getting to and Accessing Ruislip Woods

The Woods are on the western edge of London (see Google map below). You can access the Woods by different modes of transport. 

The nearest tube stations are: Ruislip Manor Ruislip and Northwood. Buses do serve the area, depending on which part of the Woods you would like to visit, especially H13 and 331.

The main car parks are at the end of Reservoir Road HA4 7TY. Mad Bess Woods Car park: Ducks Hill Road, Northwood HA6 2SS and Bayhurst Woods Car Park , Harefield, Uxbridge UB9 6LZ.


Ruislip Woods themselves are not generally suited to cycling or wheeled mobility aids because the woods are hilly, the paths are unsealed and in their current condition will be slippery and/or muddy when wet. The is an asphalt path around the lido. The path is (2.6km) in length and the camber varies a little bit so it can be arduous for people using manual folding wheelchairs.  

Explore the Woods Further

Page last updated: 04/07/2023
By Anand Punja

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