It was a warm sunny afternoon in mid September and the U3A Woodland Wanderers group met at Owlet Plantation for their monthly wander. One of the great things about the group is that it gets me to places I never knew existed, reminding me that Lincolnshire is a lot more attractive that people realise. We don’t walk that far or that fast and it is very much a social wander with a bit of natural history thrown in. No-one knows how Owlet Plantation got its name and we didn’t see (or hear) any owl.s There weren’t any obvious owl boxes either.
It is an attractive area of semi natural woodland in the depths of rural Lincolnshire between the River Trent and the A159, the main road between Scunthorpe and Gainsborough.
It formed part of the coversands heathland that once covered large areas of northern Lincolnshire. The area was traditionally used by the commoners of Morton and Blyton for grazing their animals as well as harvesting timber and firewood. In autumn, pigs would forage for acorns and beech mast. The sandy soils were not very fertile and escaped the agricultural improvements of the early C19th.
The area is now managed by the Woodland Trust and includes semi-natural woodland, wood pasture and wet woodland, along with a small area of commercial coniferous forest.
The dominant tree species are oak and birch. Many of the oaks are quite ancient dating back to when this was common pasture. Most of the birch is relatively recent and spread rapidly after myxomatosis when there were few rabbits to eat the seedlings. There is a dense undergrowth beneath the trees with bracken, fern and brambles. In the middle of September the birch and bracken were beginning to change colour and there was a good crop of blackberries.
The Woodland Trust has developed two trails which are popular with walkers and dog walkers. The Heathland Walk is a very easy circular walk of just under a mile along an all surface path suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. The Woodland Walk is longer along footpaths around the edge of the plantation, and extends into a small area of coniferous plantations.
The woodland is not signed and few people know about it. Coming from Scunthorpe on the A159, after Scotter take the sign on the right to Laughton. At the crossroads in the centre of Laughton take the right turn signed Morton. At the next road junction turn left, again signed Morton and follow this road for about a mile until a small car park on the left. If you reach Redhills Farm, you have gone too far!
The nearest post code is DN21 3EL and the grid reference is SK 826953. It really does make a very pleasant walk, miles from anywhere and best of all no traffic noise.
“More information and a map”:https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mediafile/100823608/owlet-wood-eleaflet-new.pdf?cb=a826ca2a5b9745f29e400202ff57107c