Hainault Forest Country Park
Grid ref: TQ 475 928 (click for o/s map)
Mouse over links for pictures; click for detail page.
The area to the east and south of the ancient woodland is managed as a country park by London Borough of Redbridge. It was part of the original Forest's 'plains' and therefore was treeless, but it has been invaded by birch and scrub since grazing ceased. The dense cover attracts many breeding birds including some that are scarce in Essex, such as spotted flycatchers.
The many areas of rough grassland sheltered by surrounding trees make good feeding territory for bats, which find roosting sites in the ancient trees. A number of different species can be seen feeding over the lake on warm evenings, including pipistrelles, noctules and daubenton's bats.
In the north-west corner a small area of former heathland – a rare habitat in south Essex – is being restored by removing invading birch and scrub. It still has some ling heather and dwarf gorse which it is hoped will spread
The main (Foxburrows Road) entrance is off Romford Road (A1112), about one mile south of Chigwell Row. The A1112 can be entered from the south via the A12 (London – Chelmsford) and from the north via the A113 (Woodford – Chelmsford).
The nearest stations are Ilford (Liverpool St line) 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.
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.
Paths in the eastern part of the Forest are often very muddy. Call the country park office on 020 8500 7353.