The area known as Ruislip Woods encompasses roughly 10 miles of woodland, including Park Woods, Bayhurst Woods, Copse Woods and Mad Bess Woods, the latter being named after a senile old woman who used to prowl through the woods at night, if the legend is to be believed. The woods have existed since ancient times, with some parts of it dating back to 8,000 years ago. It is also London’s first Natural Nature Reserve and the biggest area of woodland in the capital. It is inhabited by foxes, bats, squirrels and all manner of birds, including starlings, crows, finches, doves and sparrowhawks, making it a popular spot for bird watchers. In 1997 a trust was set up to protect the environment and to encourage people to visit and learn more about the natural habitat, with special attention being paid to school expeditions. Dedicated locals even make sure the wild animals are fed by leaving pieces of meat out for the foxes (and according to their website, honey and marmite sandwiches for those afflicted with mange). Guided walks and talks take part throughout the year and most of the site is filled with trees, including beeches, sweet chestnuts and oak trees.