It may come as a surprise that the Ingrebourne Valley Local Nature Reserve in Hornchurch contains the largest continuous area of freshwater reed bed in London which is designated as The Ingrebourne Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest. The site is home to water voles and a fantastic diversity of birds including waders such as redshank and lapwing or you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hobby flying high above with the swifts, a water rail skulking in the reedbeds or even the vivid blue flash of a kingfisher. In spring and summer listen out for the manic warbles of a sedge warbler or the explosive sound of the cetti’s warbler. Throughout the winter ducks such as gadwall, teal and pochard are in residence at the marshes, escaping the colder winters of the far north.
Next to The Marshes and also part of the Local Nature Reserve is Hornchurch Country Park which has a fascinating legacy of past use as a key airfield during both world wars You can see many of the Airfield's remaining features along the Eastern Pathway, starting at the Squadrons Approach Car Park, including aircraft dispersal bays, gun emplacements, tett-turrets and pillboxes.
The Ingrebourne Valley Local Nature Reserve also has links with other publicly accessible sites including Berwick Glades and Ingrebourne Hill owned by the Forestry Commission (Thames Chase) and Berwick Woods owned by Tarmac Construction.
Hornchurch Country Park is a major country park of over 100ha (250 acres), bordered by Elm Park and the River Ingrebourne. It can be accessed on foot,cycle or horse from many points, including the important, tarmac-surfaced Ingrebourne Valley Greenway that runs down the Valley from the north.
The site’s history is inextricably linked with the former RAF Hornchurch, from which Spitfires flew during the Second World War. Squadrons of Spitfires based here played an important role protecting London during the Battle of Britain. Various artefacts and relics of the site’s RAF history are still visible from within the park including an aircraft dispersal bay, pillboxes, and Tett turrets.
The play area includes a model Spitfire which is used as climbing equipment. For those visitors who wish to exercise then there is an outdoor gym and ‘trim-trail’ which extends throughout the park.
Iolo Williams, presenter on BBC Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, officially opened the new Ingrebourne Valley Visitors Centre.
Features of the park include:
- Site Area: 146 Ha - Ingrebourne Valley Local Nature Reserve (In Hectares)
- 104.46Ha – Hornchurch Country Park
- Site Type: Country Park and Local Nature Reserve
- Site users: Pedestrians, cyclists
- Ingrebourne Valley Visitors Centre
- Open - Daily 9-5 (November-January 9-4)
- Toilets – Disabled + Baby Changing
- Cafe - Gifts and snacks
- Shop - Hot & cold drinks, hot & cold food to eat in or take away
- Visitors Car Park – Free
- Path Length: The Ingrebourne Valley Greenway - a 4km hardened pathway suitable for bicycles, pushchairs and wheelchairs running through the site from Hornchurch Stadium, north of Hacton Lane, to Albyn’s Farm in Hornchurch Country Park. There are also a number of informal pathways throughout the site.
- Playsite - at squadrons approach and hacton lane
- Inclusive play equipment
- Outdoor gym
- Picnic Tables
- Fishing (visit our fishing page for information about rod fishing licences)
- Conservation area
- Heritage interest
- Trim trail
- Site Leaflet – At Ingrebourne Visitors Centre
Hornchurch Country Park can be reached by several bus routes, including the 256 which passes Hornchurch underground station (District Line) and terminates at St George's Hospital on Suttons Lane - a short walk away from the park's main car park. Route 252 towards Hornchurch town centre also stops here, or you can access the park using the 165, 365 or 372 which stop on South End Road. From here it's just a short walk back to the Albyns Farm entrance to the park by the fishing lake.
- Nearest Train Station: Hornchurch station – district line – 1.5km
- Nearest Bus Stop: Suttons lane – 0.5km
- Bus Number: 252, (165,365,256)
- Site Management Organisation: London Borough of Havering
- Site Manager: London Borough of Havering Parks Service
- Phone: 01708 434743
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/ingrebourne
Squadrons Approach, Hornchurch, RM12 6TS
Southend Road, South Upminster RM13 7YD
TQ 532 842
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