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Cranham Marsh

33ac/13ha  LNR, SMI

Grid ref: TQ 567 856

Updated 31/12/2023.

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Cranham Marsh is unusual in that it is not associated with a river. A seasonal stream runs through the middle, but it is kept wet mainly by ground water filtering out of a gravel terrace to the north. It includes damp grassland, sedge fen and ancient woodland.

The two small woods consist mainly of hazel coppice, with some huge old oak and ash trees, patches of wild cherry and a grove of alder. Dogwood, guelder rose and spindle grow around the fringes.

The marshy grassland is grazed by cattle and is bisected by old reed-filled drainage ditches. South Marsh has a large concentration of betony and, in the wetter patches, southern marsh orchids and ragged robin. It and East Marsh also have large patches of the rare yellow loosestrife.

Birdlife includes migrants such as blackcap, whitethroat and chiffchaff, and resident woodpeckers, jackdaws and tawny owl. Kestrel and sparrowhawk nest in the large trees regularly, and sometimes hobby.

In summer the reserve teems with insect life. Its many butterflies include ringlet, small copper and purple hairstreak.


On the fringe of Upminster, with access via Park Drive or The Chase, with footpaths leading on to the reserve. On-street parking. SatNav: RM14 3AU.

Upminster station is about 20 minutes walk. Buses from Upminster station run along St Mary's Lane.

Accessible at all times.

April and May for early flowers and birdsong; July and August for later flowers and insects.

Please keep dogs on leads near livestock and under control elsewhere.

There is an active Facebook group at

© Tony Gunton