The first site in the borough of Tunbridge Wells to be designated as a Local Nature Reserve, Barnett’s Wood was opened in 1998. Open to the public at all times, the reserve is managed by and for the local community, with the aim of preserving local wildlife and providing an educational space for schoolchildren. Educational facilities at Barnett’s Wood include a new outdoor classroom set within the reserve’s woodland, and a pond designed for pond dipping.
Over 5ha of Barnett’s Wood is made up of ancient, semi-natural broadleaf woodland. Although the area of woodland at Barnett’s Wood is relatively small, it contains a range of woodland types that are typical of the High Weald. These include oak and birch woodland, remnant wood pasture, and wet woodland. Bluebells flower in some areas of the woodland in spring, and coppicing, ride and glade management helps to maintain a structure that encourages many species of bird to breed there each year.
The meadows of Barnett’s Wood are largely unimproved grassland habitats resulting in a range of wildflowers growing along with the grasses, including bird’s-foot trefoil, oxeye daisy, cuckooflower, common knapweed and common spotted orchid. The meadows are managed under a low-intensity, extensive cattle grazing system throughout the year.
A derelict brick kiln can be found towards the northern edge of the woods, which is likely to have been associated in some way to the High Brooms Brickworks; a thriving local industrial enterprise up until the early part of the 20th Century.
The picnic area found at the Barnett’s way entrance (TN4 9DW) contains a play area, permanent BBQ, picnic benches and Storytelling chair as well as rubbish bins.