Amongst the oldest surviving woods in Essex, Mardyke Woods was already well established when the Romans first arrived here in 54BC. It is therefore definitely well deserved of its official status as an Ancient Semi Natural Woodland!
It has a variety of woodland paths to explore, benefits from two adjacent play areas and is convenient for the nearby Mardyke Way riverside walk, where you can connect up with the Davy Down Urban Riverside Park.
Sitting right next door to a busy urban community Mardyke Woods provides an interesting mix of ancient and modern that all ages can enjoy.
A three-year woodland improvement project was funded equally by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Veolia North Thames Trust and the Forestry Commission in 2012, and seeks to work closely with the local community to improve Mardyke Woods, with a focus on community engagement, access, biodiversity, and heritage.
Along with a variety of community engagement with local schools and families, woodland management work began in winter 2013 to thin out key areas of the woods, which have become overgrown with sycamore trees during the last century. Sycamore spreads quickly when unmanaged, and leads to other tree, plant and animal species being pushed out – intensively clearing sycamore in key areas over the next few years will open up the woods for the benefit people and wildlife.
New entrance signage, maps and waymarkers are also in place, showing visitors the routes they can walk, ride and cycle around the woods and beyond.
There are many families with young children within walking distance, who have been getting involved with activities in the woods. To create a unique, more interactive experience for these young visitors, new natural play areas and an animal puzzle trail will be created in the woods, designed with the help of local primary schools and the residents association.
Mardyke is composed of three separate ancient woods.
Dating from 1339 is Brannett’s Wood, the second oldest recorded Essex woodland was then called Brendewode. Millard’s Garden is first mentioned shortly after in 1397 as Maynwares Garden and Low Wells Wood is documented in 1619 as Hanginge Wood. Traces of medieval woodbanks dividing these three woods can still be found today. All three were then part of the Belhus Park Estate and were probably coppiced and used to supply woodland products. By 1880 all had fallen into neglect, but now the Forestry Commission is reintroducing management practices that will restore the woods’ quality.
24 hours a day, all year round
Features of the park include:
- Site Area: 27 hectares (66.7 acres)
- Site Type: Public Access Woodland
- Parking – Free car parking on local roads
- Path Length: Pedestrians and Cyclists – 1.2km,
- Horse Riders – 0.5km (Links to Mardyke Way path)
- All unsurfaced
- Nearest Train/Tube: South Ockendon – 2km
- Nearest Bus: 100m
- Bus Number: First London 373
- Site Management Organisation: Forestry Commission
- Community Ranger:
- Phone: 01708 642964
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.forestryengland.uk/mardyke-woods
- RM15 6BD
- OS Grid ref: TQ585 805
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