You can't see the trees for the wood.

No, I haven’t misquoted the old saying.

We think our valley has several areas of ancient woodland, but no ancient trees, with one possible exception.

Woodlands are ancient if they have been under tree canopy for more than 400 years. They are important because they have had time to develop a rich diversity of wildlife and they sequester a large store of carbon in the soil. Currently, there are no ancient woodlands listed for the Sid Valley.

The valley floor was cleared for agriculture many centuries ago, but the Biodiversity Group is working with the Ancient Woodland Inventory to assess several areas of neglected woodland on the steep valley sides.

The most likely candidate is Combe Wood in Salcombe Regis. It is listed as Bowood on a monastic map from 1281. It was still woodland on the Victorian Tithe Map, and all the Ordnance Survey maps up to the present.

Other areas in the Roncombe Valley and at the head of the Sid Valley have been woodland for at least 200 years and have probably never been cleared for farming.

You might expect to find ancient trees in ancient woodland, but that is not often the case. Woodland was always a precious resource. The trees were managed to produce different sizes and types of wood, timber and underwood. Timber was planks and beams cut from the trunks of mature trees. Underwood was produced by coppicing. Trees were cut off at the base every seven to 20 years to produce a crop of straight, upright poles. Coppiced trees have no chance to grow to full size.

In our valley, dealing with large trees on the steep valley sides would have been very difficult, our woodland was managed mainly by coppicing. We do have large timber trees, but in the hedgerows.

One of the oldest trees that we do have is the large oak in the hedgerow of Gilchrist Field in The Byes, which is a veteran at about 400 years old.

There is a very old Chestnut hiding in the grounds of Powys which might be 600 years old, but it may just be two trees growing into each other.