Cranham Marsh is all that remains of a marshland habitat that once covered many square miles of southern Essex, but which has now mostly been converted to arable farming. It contains a variety of habitats including marsh, sedge fen (one of the best surviving in Essex) and ancient woodland.
The 13ha (32 acre) site is managed as a nature reserve by the Essex Wildlife Trust.
Birds and insects are plentiful and visitors are requested to keep to the marked paths and keep any dogs under strict control, to avoid wildlife disturbance. There is a third wood, separate to the main reserve, that is not open to public access.
What to look for:
The three small woods consist mainly of Hazel coppice, with some very large Oak and Ash trees, patches of Wild Cherry and a grove of Alder. Dogwood, Guelder Rose, Spindle and Midland Hawthorn are also found here indicating it is very old woodland. The grassland across the south of the reserve is bisected by old reed-filled drainage ditches. It contains a large concentration of Betony, and, in the wetter patches, Southern Marsh Orchids, Marsh Marigold and Ragged Robin. It also has three large patches of the rare Yellow Loosestrife.
The reserve attracts marshland birds such as Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting with Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and Tawny Owl in the woods. Kestrel and Sparrowhawk nest in the large trees regularly, and sometimes Hobby. Grass Snakes are often seen in the grassland and there is abundant insect life. Twenty three butterfly species have been recorded, including Small Copper, Wall Brown and Speckled Wood.
The reserve is accessible from Upminster via the footpath at the end of Park Drive, from Cranham via The Chase and from Thames Chase Forest Centre via footpaths.
Accessible at all times
Features of the Park include:
- Site Area: 13ha, 32acres
- Site Type: Local Nature Reserve
- Site Users: Nature lovers, dog walkers
- Path Length: 3km (unsurfaced)
- Parking: Park at the end of Park Drive, Upminster and walk in via public footpath, free
- Non vehicle access: Via footpaths 1) from the end of Park Drive; 2) from the end of The Chase; 3) from Meadowside Road; 4) from Ockendon Road opposite Stubbers.
- Picnic Table: near tool hut in centre of reserve
- Site Leaflet from Essex Wildlife Trust and other visitor centres – 25p
- Directions - Access via Argyle Gardens or The Chase, both of which run south off St Mary's Lane (B187) with footpaths leading on to the reserve.
- Please keep dogs on leads near livestock and under control elsewhere.
- Nearest Train/Tube: Upminster – 2.5km
- Nearest Bus stop: St Mary’s Lane/Front Lane
- Bus Number: 248, 348
- Site Management Organisation: Essex Wildlife Trust
- Reserve Warden: Tony Gunton
- Phone: 01621 862960/01708 220897
- Email: email@example.com
Cranham Marsh Nature Reserve
OS: TQ 587 856
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