371ac/150ha LNR, SSSI (part)
Grid ref: TQ 535 848 (click for o/s map)
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This Local Nature Reserve consists of Hornchurch Country Park and parts of the adjoining Ingrebourne Marshes SSSI, plus land adjoining the Ingrebourne both upstream and downstream. A wetland on this scale – with a huge reedbed alongside marsh and flood meadow – is very unusual anywhere, and especially so close to London.
The highlight is the Ingrebourne Marshes SSSI, which can be viewed from Hornchurch Country Park and from Berwick Woods, on the other side of the river. Redshank, lapwing and yellow wagtail breed on this kind of wet tussocky grassland. Kingfishers make their nest holes in the steep banks of the river. Many sedge and reed warblers nest here, and also cetti's warblers, one of our few resident warbler species. Water rails can occasionally be seen prowling around in the tall vegetation. Our smallest duck, the teal, overwinters on the ponds and bearded tits, and occasionally bittern, in the reedbeds.
With such a variety of wet and dry habitats the area is valuable for insects too. Banded demoiselles can be seen all the way down the river and it also supports several rarities.
The London Loop long-distance footpath runs all the way down the valley to the Thames a mile or so to the south
Main entrance on Squadrons Approach off Suttons Lane, about 2km south of Hornchurch town centre (reached from Upminster or Dagenham via the A124) via Station Lane.
About 1km walk down Suttons Lane from Hornchurch station (District Line tube). Frequent bus services run to both entrance roads from Rainham, Hornchurch and Romford.
The park is accessible at all times; car parks open daylight hours only.
May–June for breeding birds; July–August for dragonflies and butterflies; migration periods for unusual birds sheltering in the marshes or plantations.
About 4 miles of surfaced paths suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.
Park Office phone 01708 554451.