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Over 200 species of wildflower thrive in the hay and flood meadows which make up most of the Roding Valley Nature Reserve in Chigwell, Essex.
The reserve is the largest surviving area of traditionally managed river-valley habitat in Essex. It consists of flower-rich unimproved hay meadows, both wet and dry, bounded by thick hedgerows. The reserve follows the River Roding for some 1.5 miles, as it meanders across this ancient landscape.
The reserve is the site of the former RAF Chigwell (part of London's barrage balloon defences in WWII). Occasional glimpses of its military past can be seen in balloon mooring rings, the concrete roads and the runners for the hanger doors.
When to go
Whilst a pleasant place for a walk at anytime, it comes into its own around May, June and July when the meadows become a riot of wildflowers.
What to shoot
The meadows are rich in flowers, including sneezewort and pepper saxifrage, with southern marsh orchid, ragged robin, marsh marigold and several rare sedge species in the wetter areas.
The giant Ox-eye daisies offer lots of opportunities for close up work and the numerous moths, butterflies and spiders add to the riot of subjects for the macro lens.
The reserve is e managed in the traditional way by taking a haycut in summer, followed by aftermath grazing by longhorn cattle. The longhorns have a gentle nature which makes them an ideal subject as it possible to get really close to them with a camera without disturbing them.
The green lane which runs from near the river (by Charlie Moules bridge) to the M11 motorway by Grange Farm has many woodland flowers and forms part of the old route from Epping Forest to Romford market.
Kingfisher and sand martin occasionally nest in the riverbank, whilst Kestrels can be seen hovering on the reserve at harvest time and can be frequently observed from the bank that borders the M11.
How to get there
The carpark for the site can be found off the B170 from Buckhurst Hill to Chigwell, look for the signs to the David Lloyd centre and the reserve carpark is on the right.
The meadows are within easy walking distance of Buckhurst Hill & Loughton tube stations on the central line.
More images of Roding Valley Meadows.
Roding Valley Meadows Images
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