Fordham Hall Estate
Grid ref: TL 926 277 (click for o/s map)
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This former arable farm surrounding the village of Fordham was donated to the Woodland Trust in 2002. Since then more than 47,000 trees have been planted to create 300 acres of new woodland, the largest woodland creation scheme in eastern England. Add to this some 15km of hedgerows, some probably ancient in origin, that have of course been retained.
Most of the remaining 200 acres adjoining the River Colne have been resown with grass and wild flowers and are being managed by cutting for hay and grazing by sheep and cattle. The River Colne runs along the southern boundary within steep banks and the meadows alongside are marshy and flood in winter. The dampest patches have colonised rapidly with wetland species such as purple loosestrife, brooklime and flag iris. Mature willows and alders grow along the river bank.
It had some 10km of public footpaths originally and the Woodland Trust has added as much again in permissive footpaths.
The wildlife potential of such a large area is considerable and the Woodland Trust has put up large numbers of bird and bat boxes to encourage colonisation. Otters occupy the river, and already barn owls are seen regularly and skylarks nest in the open fields. With skilled management it can only get better as it matures.
Turn off the A1124 (Colchester–Halstead) in the village of Fordstreet, on to Ponders Road. There is a parking area on the left shortly after you reach Fordham village.
Hourly bus service Colchester–Halstead runs through Fordstreet.
Accessible at all times.
Spring for breeding birds; summer for flying insects and wild flowers in the meadows; warm summer evenings for bats.