Dunster Copse is best entered from Roydon Court through the archway made by old field maples that have been 'laid' many years ago to form a hedge and have now grown out.
One of the loveliest times to appreciate the Copse from the surrounding streets in spring when the tall wild cherry trees are in blossom and when the new growth on the poplars shows pink.
The limes and poplar are part of an old plantation. The wild cherry trees, ash, hazel, blackthorn, holly and hawthorn have possibly been there for a very long time.
The metre wide root remains of at least three large elms are still to be seen, surrounded by diseased elm saplings which will not mature. I am told that elms once established are almost impossible to get rid of. The remnants of the boles of these could be seen in the Copse but even they have gradually rotted away leaving only elm scrub, a surround of immature trees of about 20cm diameter, grown by suckering, which die and fall as Dutch Elm Disease continues to destroy them.
The ash trees and hazel have been coppiced, that is the periodic cutting of trees just above ground level to produce stout regular staves or poles.
In the spring the wood has a carpet of bluebells
A study of the wild flowers there one May revealed 40 different specimens, one of which is quite rare.
Three large beech trees and a magnificent row of oak trees tower above Jarvis's Dell.
All the Woodland areas are managed by the DBC Woodlands department keeping them pleasant to visit by removing litter, keeping the paths trimmed on either side and cutting back some bramble growth to allow light for small plants.
Dunster Copse is best entered from Roydon Court but can be entered from lower down Tattershall Drive. The path is rough with roots and is steep and very muddy and slippery in wet weather, getting even more slippery as one goes down. In dry weather it is more accessible and there is a set of steps to the left just below the beech trees down to Jarvis Dell.
Jarvis Dell is a deep gully which forms part of the border in the north east edge of the parish. A little while ago the Council had all the undergrowth cut back along it revealing a row of about 20 oak trees, maybe 100 years old. Who planted these and for what purpose? They form a linear wood running from St Agnells Lane to Holtsmere End Lane and could possibly have linked up with Piccotts End Lane. I like to imagine Queen Elizabeth the First riding along it from Ashridge to Redbourn. The path was at some time laid with flints, 'metalled' which can still be seen when the rain washes away the mud. I was told that this road surfacing was sometimes carried out when there was no other work to do on the farm and used the flints cleared from the fields but it looks to me to be very elaborate to be a casual labour.
There is a tiny glade of Wood Anemones
but you have to be there at just the right time.
Bus No 2 Get off at the next stop after Sainsburys. As the bus route is circular and one way here, you catch the bus back on the same side as you get off.
Coppice or copse, (from the Old French word copiez, from Vulgate Latin colpaticium, from colpare to cut. To coppice (Medieval Latin colpus a blow) means to regularly cut back to encourage growth .