Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve

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Listed in Nature Reserves & Woods, Parks, Wildlife and Nature, Places to Go

The largest remaining water meadows in Essex. This 160 acre reserve is famous for the beautiful wild flowers, such as Southern Marsh Orchids and Yellow Watercress which flourish on this reserve.

Events at Roding Valley Meadows and Epping Forest Local Group

This reserve comprises the largest surviving area of traditionally managed river-valley habitat in Essex and follows the River Roding for 1.5 miles between Chigwell Lane, Debden and Roding Lane, Buckhurst Hill. The meadows are rich in flowers and the impressive green lane that runs from near the river to the M11 motorway forms part of the ancient route from Epping Forest to Romford market.

What to look for:

The meadows are famous for their beautiful wild flowers such as Southern Marsh Orchids and Devil’s-Bit Scabious which flourish on the reserve. It is also an important habitat for a range of butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates who are reliant on ever declining habitats. In spring and summer, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Whitethroat can be seen, while in late summer there are flocks of finches and other seed-eating birds on the seed heads of thistle and teasel. Other wildlife you might see and experience include birds such as Kestrels, Woodpeckers and Sparrowhawks.

The meadows came to exist under an ancient system of management, which included grazing and hay cutting. We are trying to mimic this in our current management, using traditional breeds of cattle and continuing with a summer hay cut. Hedgerows help define the uniqueness of the British countryside. There are almost ten miles of hedgerow on the reserve, many of which are managed by laying and coppicing.


Accessible at all times. There is a one mile linear surfaced track that is adapted to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. Dogs allowed if under effective control. Please keep dogs on leads when there is livestock on the reserve.

Public Transport – Buckhurst Hill, Loughton and Debden tube stations (on the Central Line) are all within a few minutes’ walk of the reserve. Many bus services run to the neighbouring tube stations, including the 20, 167 and 250.

Directions – On foot from Roding Valley recreation ground via a number of entrances on the Loughton side of the river. The main car park is next to the David Lloyd Tennis Centre off Roding Lane, with additional parking by the reserve office in the Grange Farm Pavilion, off Chigwell High Road.

Educational Facilities:

We are currently developing an educational programme. With the opening of the new Grange Farm Pavilion building, we now have the facilities to receive school groups who wish to come on educational visits. Indoor and outdoor classrooms are available, as well as a vast array of wildlife activities on our doorstep. A function room in the Pavilion is also available to hire, phone Grange Farm on 0208 127 4323 or email [email protected]. For more information on education with Essex Wildlife Trust, visit the Learning Zone or contact Claire Rogers, Assistant Ranger on 020 8500 3094 or email: [email protected]

Did you know?

The Roding Valley meadows were declared a local nature reserve in 1986. Before this, from 1938 to 1964, part of this land was occupied by an RAF base, RAF Chigwell. Although the base was largely demolished in 1968, a number of features from the former site remain. These include the balloon rotundas, from which barrage balloons were launched to protect North London against air raids in World War II, and concrete tracks, which now provide firm walking even in winter.

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