Lexden Gathering Grounds
Grid ref: TL 966 253 (click for o/s map)
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This was formerly a 'gathering ground' for water from constantly flowing springs and used as a water source from the turn of the century until the mid-1970s. It is owned by Anglian Water, who operate the covered reservoir and treatment works nearby, and managed by Essex Wildlife Trust.
In the 1960s parts of the site were planted with scots pine and with beech and oak. Between the woodlands lies a valley with semi-natural woodland of birch and ash on the steep slopes and a partially wooded marsh at the bottom, with a meadow beyond it.
The valley has bluebell and climbing corydalis, an uncommon plant typical of old woodland on sandy soils. The marsh has moschatel and old hazel and alder coppice. The meadow grassland is acidic with sheep's sorrel dominant over large areas.
Great spotted woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and many other woodland birds are present. Fox and badger forage on the site. In the meadow in summer you will see the commoner brown butterflies and small copper, whose caterpillars feed on sheep's sorrel.
The entrance is on Cooks Lane off Cymbeline Way (A133), about 50m from its junction with the A12 at Lexden Road.
Bus services run along Lexden Road to the south.
Accessible at all times