Grid ref: TQ 475 928 (click for o/s map)
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After it was 'disafforested' in 1851 most of Hainault Forest was destroyed for housing and farming. The remaining woodland was managed as wood pasture until about 1900, when pollarding stopped as the markets for charcoal and firewood declined. It is managed now by the Woodland Trust, which is repollarding some of the old trees and also raising new trees for pollarding.
To the east is ancient woodland, dominated by hornbeam pollards and oak standards, with holly, bracken and bramble growing beneath them. Much of the woodland floor is bare because of the dense shade cast by the overgrown pollards, but it has many damp areas and ditches lined with pendulous sedge. It also supports unusual plants like wood speedwell, hartstongue fern, marsh pennywort and butcher's broom.
Off Romford Road (A1112), about one mile south of Chigwell Row. Enter the A1112 from the south via the A12 (London – Chelmsford) and from the north via the A113 (Woodford – Chelmsford). SatNav: IG7 5PG.
The nearest stations are Ilford (Liverpool St rail) and Hainault (Central Line tube), from where buses run to the main entrance. Buses also run from Romford, Chadwell Heath and Barkingside.
Accessible at all times. The Foxburrows Road car park is open every day from 7.00am to dusk; the small peripheral car parks on Manor Road, Chigwell Row are always open.
May for songbirds; summer for wild flowers in the meadows and along the link to Havering Country Park; or try a misty winter day to see the fantastic tree shapes in the ancient woodland.The Forest is heavily visited, especially on holidays. The quietest time is early morning, accessing via the car parks off Manor Road along its northern edge.
The Forest is heavily visited, especially on holidays. The quietest time is early morning, accessing via the car parks off Manor Road along its northern edge.Paths in the eastern part of the Forest are often very muddy.