The Woods

The RYDA manages 3 woods in Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo, one of which it owns outright.

Brookings Down Wood and Eastern Hill Wood are both in Noss Mayo. They are owned by the Woodland Trust to protect them in perpetuity but are leased to the RYDA which manages both of them.

Court Woodland is a 3 acre part of Court Wood in Newton Ferrers. It was purchased in October 2019 by the RYDA which both owns and manages it on behalf of the villages.

Brookings Down Wood is a 16-acre (6.5 hectare) wood which was bought by The Woodlands Trust in 2000 with money raised locally and donated to the Trust and then leased back to the RYDA at a peppercorn rent. 

It is located between Hannaford Road and Middlecombe Lane. 

The Wood is mainly broad-leaf with a few larch and Monterey pine.  Hazel, hawthorn, yew, holly and elder provide the understorey.  English bluebells dominate a large area of the Wood, with a profusion of campion, foxglove, violets and corydalis. 

Brookings Down Wood

 There are 3 entrances to the Wood, all open to walkers. The main entrance is at the end of the car park adjacent to the tennis courts, and is marked with an information board which shows the main paths and other information.  This entrance leads to some quite steep steps and so is not accessible to wheelchair users.

Because of these steps this entrance is unsuitable for wheelchair access. 

There are other entrances from Hannaford Road and Middlecombe Lane but only the latter is accessible to wheelchair users in dry weather and through a 1 metre wide gate.

Eastern Hill Wood

Mieczyslaw Borek at the Medical Rehabilitation Unit RAF Collaton Cross

There is a fascinating tale behind how the Wood came to the RYDA. 

Mieczyslaw Borek was born in Poland in 1923.  At the age of just 17 as Hitler was invading his homeland he came to Britain to seek refuge. Soon after, he joined 304(Polish) Squadron RAF and flew missions over Germany in a Wellington bomber.  He survived the war and made the transition to Transport Command where his new job was to fly food and medical supplies to Greece and Yugoslavia.  Whilst doing this he was in an accident on a routine training flight.  On 18th January 1946 the Vickers Warwick in which he was flying caught fire on landing at RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk.

The pilot, W/O Bojarczuk, was killed but W/O Borek and W/O Zurek survived.  Mieczyslaw was pulled from the burning aircraft with his clothes on fire.  He suffered a badly broken right leg and the tendons in his right ankle were severed.  He was sent to the convalescent unit at RAF Collaton Cross and here he met Bessie a young girl 3 years his junior who had lived all her life in Noss.  Soon they were married and moved to the Bristol area to start a family - but not before Mieczyslaw came to the attention of Mr Wakeham, a local farmer.  On hearing the young airman's story he promptly gave him Eastern Hill Wood for "coming here and fighting for Britain".

During their lives the couple and their growing family paid frequent visits to Noss, staying in the caravan in the woods.  It was shortly before his death in 2012 that Mieczyslaw decided that he wanted to leave everything to the community, along with a sum of money to help with its restoration.  Today we are truly grateful for all this young airman did for his adopted community and country.

Eastern Hill Wood is adjacent to Brookings Down Wood between Middlecombe Lane and Stoke Road and is approximately 1 hectare in size.  It was acquired by The Woodland Trust in 2017 and added to the existing lease for Brookings Down Wood. 

The Wood is on a very steep slope and needs a great deal of work to clear the extensive, unwanted vegetation, to open up and establish the footpaths and to make it much more accessible to the public. 

The Wood is mainly broad-leaf, with oak, sycamore, ash and beech and an understorey of hazel, hawthorn, sloe, holly and privet.



Court Woodland is a 3-acre section of Court Wood bought by the RYDA in October 2019 with donations raised locally. The wood was being sold privately and, on the initiative of RYDA member, David Stembridge, the money was raised in order to secure it as a community asset for the benefit of the villages. Like Brookings Down Wood and Eastern Hill Wood in Noss, Court Woodland is now preserved as a wood in perpetuity.  


Once the RYDA had bought the wood, it was important to give it a name so that it could be distinguished from the rest of Court Wood. After much discussion, it was decided that it should be called Court Woodland as this acknowledges the ancient heritage of Court Wood, the name of which stretches back at least 500 years.


It is still very early days for our ownership of Court Woodland and we are putting in place the management processes so that the wood is appropriately looked after. We do have some tentative thoughts about how it can be opened up and made more accessible, including making easier access through to Newton Wood which lies between Court Wood and Shortaflete Creek and is owned by the Woodland Trust. It is intended to achieve a circular, connected path through both woods. However, our overriding concern will be to keep Court Woodland as natural as possible – there will be no tarmac paths!


Once the plans have been fully worked up they will be published in a Court Woodland Management Plan which will be made available on this website for everyone to see.


Woodland Management. All 3 woods are managed by the RYDA and have similar management requirements – clearing, planting and nurturing new trees; putting up bird and bat boxes; strimming paths; clearing brambles and ivy; encouraging bio-diversity etc. All this work is done by volunteers. We are always on the lookout for new (and younger, fitter!) volunteers and so if you are prepared to do your bit, the contacts are:


Brookings Down Wood and Eastern Hill Wood (Noss):

Paul Francombe on Tel  872102 or email thefrancombes@btinternet.com


Court Woodland (Newton): Christopher Lunn on 01752 872848 or lunnch@btinternet.com.

The separate points of contact for Newton and Noss are entirely for practical reasons and you can of course volunteer to help with either no matter where you live.

Friends of Brookings Down Wood. If you want to donate to the 2 woods in Noss, you can become a Friend of Brookings Down Wood and receive the Newsletter which updates you on the activities for the 2 Noss woods. You should complete the form at Friends of Brookings Down Wood.


(In due course a similar ‘Friends’ may be set up for Court Woodland in Newton.)

The River Yealm and DistrictAssociation

Registered Charity No. 262929