Rectory Wood - Place to Unwind

Rectory Wood

Rectory Wood is 70 hectares (173 acres) of former arable farmland covering the slopes between Cranfield village and the ancient woodland of Marston Thrift. This farmland was purchased in 2002 by the Marston Vale Trust using funds raised from many sources, including the local community. It will be an important natural space for the growing population in this part of the County to enjoy.

How To Get There By Public Transport

BY BUS: Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN: For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website

How To Get There By Car

From the A421 or A422 follow signs to Cranfield. Rectory Wood is to the east of the village, off of Court Road which can be reached from Cranfield High Street.
Limited street parking is available – please park thoughtfully and carefully.

Access and General Information

Pending Update

Tartlett's Close

As the first stage of the planting of Rectory Wood, this 7 hectare field was planted over the winter of 2003-4 with the help of local people. Formerly an arable field, over 13,000 trees and shrubs have been planted here, such as oak, ash, field maple and hazel, grown from seed collected by local children and volunteers from nearby ancient woodlands such as Marston Thrift. At the time of parliamentary enclosure in 1840 much of this field had the interesting name Tartlett’s Close, which we have resurrected.

Tartlett's Close Map

Strawberry Hill

This 8.5 hectare former arable field is the second phase of Rectory Wood to be created. Over much of the area natural colonisation by trees is being encouraged, with seed coming from Marston Thrift, and other woodland and ancient hedgerows which surround the site. The establishment of new trees across the whole field would occur naturally over time, with seed being spread around by the wind and animals. However, this process could take many decades, so some assistance is being provided here. The centre of the field was planted during winter 2004/5, using trees grown from locally collected seed. Around these, tree and shrub seed has been sown, whilst the rest of the field is being left to nature. Careful management of grass and other vegetation is being carried out for a few years to help the young saplings to get established by reducing competition, particularly for light. Young trees are also susceptible to browsing from animals such as rabbits, hares and deer, so to prevent this, the field has been fenced to keep them out.

This phase of Rectory Wood has been delivered in memory of Mr John Niles, retired County Forester and supporter of the Forest of Marston Vale.

Strawberry Hill Map


Creating The New Woodland

The young woodland that surrounds you is an important local space for people and wildlife to enjoy. It is just one part of a much larger project to create Rectory Wood, a huge new community woodland covering the slopes between Cranfield village and the ancient woodland of Marston Thrift. Rectory Wood is 70 hectares (173 acres) of former arable farmland. It was purchased in 2002 by the Marston Vale Trust using funds from many sources, including the local community. Over the next 5-10 years, more than 110,000 native trees and shrubs will be planted here to create the largest new woodland in Bedfordshire.

The new woodland will buffer and protect the adjacent Marston Thrift, an ancient woodland of national importance for its biodiversity. By extending the area of woodland, Rectory Wood will allow rare animals and plants to colonise new habitat. It also links the people of Cranfield with Marston Thrift, using new woodland to bring the ancient woodland to their doorstep.

The local landscape has suffered many decades of clay extraction and landfill activity. The creation of Rectory Wood marks a positive change to this history, and will deliver woodland that will help screen the neighbouring landfill. In time, the landfill site will be restored to a mixture of woodland and grassland. This will combine with Rectory Wood to create an attractive, well wooded landscape stretching from Cranfield to Brogborough. The area of Rectory Wood is well connected with local footpaths and bridleways for people to explore. It also includes part of the National Cycle Network Route 51 cycleway, which links Milton Keynes to Sandy, via Bedford. The Route 51 cycleway is an important access corridor through the Marston Vale and links many of our new woods and other wild places.

The creation of Rectory Wood will take several years and be done using different techniques. Many areas will be planted with native trees and shrubs grown from seed collected from nearby ancient woodland like Marston Thrift. Other areas will be helped to regenerate naturally over time, just how our ancient woodlands developed. Rectory Wood is one of many community woodlands that we are creating across the Marston Vale. They are all helping to improve the landscape, produce a sustainable supply of timber and provide valuable new wildlife habitats, as well as being great natural spaces for people to explore and enjoy.


The land is owned by the Marston Vale Trust, the independent charity delivering the Forest of Marston Vale. Our challenge is to use trees and woodlands to repair a landscape scarred by decades of clay extraction, brickmaking and landfill. We are working with local communities, government and businesses, to create new woods and other wild places for everyone to enjoy. For further information call the Forest Centre on 01234 767037.

This new woodland, for everyone to enjoy, is being created with the help of: Linley Wightman Shaw Foundation, Cranfield Parish Council, Forestry Commission, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Heritage Lottery Fund, Grantscape, The Countryside Agency and Natural England.