Beam Valley Country Park
Grid ref: TQ 512 850 (click for o/s map)
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This country park in Dagenham runs alongside the River Beam, from Dagenham Village and the railway in the north almost all the way to New Road in the south, opposite the Ford plant.
The area has been partly worked for gravel, leaving a wide diversity of habitats, with wet and dry grassland, tall herbs and scrub, and one small area of willow woodland, a scarce habitat in London. Dense wetland vegetation grows alongside the river in places, especially in the northern section and along the Wantz Stream in the south. Snipe sometimes find refuge here in winter, kingfishers are seen regularly, and reed warblers and reed buntings breed. Skylarks breed in the drier grassland. The valley is also worth a visit in migration periods, because migrating birds follow the Dagenham Corridor – of which the Beam Valley forms a part – through London.
A series of ponds have been created and these are used for breeding by great crested newts and other amphibians. 10ha of reedbed and wetland have been created at the southern end by the Wantz Stream in a flood defence area that still serves its original function, flooding in winter.
Remnants of World War II defences can still be seen and one pillbox has been converted into a bat cave, providing a secure space for roosting
Accessible from Upper Rainham Road (A125), from Rainham Road South (A1112), from Ballards Road (B178),from New Road (A1306), and from the adjoining housing estates. On-street parking. Alternatively, park at Eastbrookend visitor centre (qv) and follow footpaths through and over the railway footbridge.
District Line Tube to Dagenham East. Turn right outside the station down Rainham Road South and the entrance track is about 50m down on the left.
Accessible at all times.
A surfaced path runs the full length of the valley.