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Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve


Size:56.5 Hectares

Parish: Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton

Grid Reference: TQ 430 942 {phocamaps view=link|id=13|text=Map}

Owners: Epping Forest District Council and the Grange Farm Centre Trust

Management: Essex Wildlife Trust since 1986

LNR Declaration: 13 April 1986

Access: Access: The Reserve is open all year round with numerous paths both hard-surfaced and grass. The gradients over the Reserve for the most part are gentle. There are no stiles on the nature reserve, but there are numerous gates. After heavy rain and through the winter the meadows can be uneven and are prone to flooding. There will also be cattle grazing on the fields at certain times of the year. The main Reserve car park is on Roding Lane, Chigwell.

Site Description: Visit Roding Valley for its flower-rich unimproved hay meadows and its miles of thick hedgerows. Stroll for hours amongst the veteran trees, scrub, secondary woodland, tree plantations and  ponds. The best time to visit for the wildflowers is mid May onwards. 

The Reserve is a mosaic of old hedgerows and flower rich meadows that nestle beside the River Roding as it flows through Loughton and Chigwell. Today, the meadows represent the largest surviving area of traditionally managed flood-plain hay meadow and marsh in Essex and probably South East England.

Four of the fields are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) reflecting their huge importance for biodiversity nationally.

Management of the Reserve is quite complex.  In early summer a traditional haycut is undertaken and this is followed in the autumn and winter by aftermath grazing. The rare breed Longhorn cattle are supplied by a local farmer do this important job.  Importantly, there has been no application of artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. The general lack of this type of interference is vital for the continuity of the flora and fauna. The meadows are not just grassland as the fields are enclosed by a network of hedgerows totalling almost ten miles in length. These hedges need managing and each year a programme of laying and coppicing takes place.

For more information about the veteran trees go to the link on this page to the favourite tree website.

Over the last few years some 90 species of bird have been recorded in the Roding Valley. In late spring and summer, sedge warbler, skylark, reed bunting, and whitethroat can be found about the river and meadows.  Late summer sees flocks of finches and other seed-eating birds on the dying heads of thistle and teasel, and cold late autumn weather can bring uncommon migrant ducks to the gravel pit lake.

From 1939 to early 1943, RAF Chigwell provided barrage balloon protection against enemy air raids across North London, Essex and Hertfordshire.  Parts of the camp still lie within the Nature Reserve.

Management of the Reserve: The majority of the work undertaken on the Reserve is undertaken by Essex Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers with contractors only used for the specialist tree works to the veteran pollards. To read about how  the site is managed in more detail please download the pdf of the management plan.

{phocadownload view=file|id=1168|text=View the current management plan for Roding Valley Meadows LNR|target=s}

{phocadownload view=file|id=1271|text=Get involved with the Countrycare Volunteer Group|target=s}

{phocadownload view=file|id=1272|text=Find out more about Local Nature Reserves|target=s}

{phocadownload view=file|id=1273|text=Visit the glossary to explain some of the terms used in the descriptions of the LNR's|target=s}


Articles about Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve

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Useful links

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