The Barkes family have farmed at Thorpe Grange since 1936. The farm provides a natural gateway to Teesdale and some of the most picturesque unspoilt scenery in England. The working farm has now diversified and now forms the basis of Thorpe Farm Centre, one of the regions major tourist attractions. The late Deryck Barkes was very keen to put something back into the land from which he earned his living and spent his working life as a farmer. He achieved this by planting numerous woodland areas at Thorpe Grange such as Barkes Folly a 9 acre mixed woodland planted in 1962 and is now recognised on the ordnance survey maps. In 2005, in memory of the late Deryck Barkes, the Barkes family decided to plant another woodland area, one that could be shared with the public. The idea of the community woodland from here began and in partnership with the Forestry Commission plans were put in place.
In March 2006 the first batch of 900 trees were planted in what marked the beginning of the community woodland. A further 1400 saplings were planted in the second phase of planting in March 2007. Nine species in all make up the woodland, the large trees such as oak and horse chestnut are planted towards the centre of the woodland along with the smaller field maples, wild cherries, rowan and birch. Smaller tree species and shrubs have been planted around the perimeter of the wood to form ground cover for wildlife. The new woodland is easily accessible from Thorpe Farm Centre via a new bridleway. The new woodland paths have spectacular views of the farm and upper Teesdale.