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Cranham Marsh

33ac/13ha  LNR, SMI

Grid ref: TQ 567 856 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

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Cranham Marsh is all that remains of a marshland habitat that once covered many square miles of southern Essex, but which has now mostly been converted to arable farming. It contains a variety of habitats including marsh, sedge fen (one of the best surviving in Essex) and ancient woodland.

The three small woods consist mainly of hazel coppice, with some very large oak and ash trees, patches of wild cherry and a grove of alder. Dogwood, guelder rose and spindle are also found here, indicating that it is very old woodland.

The grassland across the south of the reserve is bisected by old reed-filled drainage ditches. It contains a large concentration of betony and, in the wetter patches, southern marsh orchids and ragged robin. It also has three large patches of the rare yellow loosestrife.

The reserve attracts marshland birds such as sedge warbler and reed bunting, with green and great spotted woodpeckers and tawny owl in the woods. Kestrel and sparrowhawk nest in the large trees regularly, and sometimes hobby.

Grass snakes are often seen in the grassland and there is abundant insect life. Twenty-three butterfly species have been recorded, including small copper, wall brown and speckled wood


Access via Argyle Gardens or The Chase, both of which run south off St. Mary's Lane (B187) in Upminster, with footpaths leading on to the reserve. Cars can be parked on Argyle Gardens or at the end of Park Drive.

Upminster station is about 20 minutes walk. Buses from Upminster station runs 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

Photo © Tony Gunton