Oxwich National Nature Reserve
Crawley Wood is the eastern part of Nicholaston Wood close to Crawley Rocks and Crawley Wood Fort. Historical features of the wood include post-medieval quarrying and lime production, similar to other woodland areas on Gower. The woodland was also managed through coppicing during the post-medieval period most likely for charcoal burning.
A cavern discovered at Crawley Rocks during quarrying at the end of the eighteenth century, yielded excavation finds, in the 1830s, of rhinoceros, elephant, hyena, red deer and ox remains. The cavern no longer exists as it was eventually completely quarried away.
The habitat is an unusual combination of beach, cliff, dune and woodland. Crawley Point near the footpath on edge of wood, affords excellent views above Oxwich Bay.
Rare trees and shrubs found here include rock whitebeam and wild service tree, with juniper and butcher's broom on rockier parts. There is a small but stable population of the elusive purple hairstreak butterfly; tricky to spot due their habit of flying high amongst the canopy of oak and ash trees, rarely settling on the understorey. You might only glimpse the grey underside of purple hairstreaks in flight, when they at their most active in July during the early evening.
The woodland was purchased in 1969 by Nature Conservancy and designated part of the Oxwich National Nature Reserve.