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Hunsdon Mead

67ac/27ha  SSSI

Grid ref: TL 421 114 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

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This area of common land between the River Stort and the Stort Navigation is one of the finest surviving areas of unimproved grassland in eastern England. The Hertfordshire & Middlesex and Essex Wildlife Trusts acquired it jointly in 1981.

It provides a superb display of flowering plants. In April and May it is yellow with cowslips and marsh marigolds. As May gives way to June colours change continually, as plants such as yellow rattle, ragged robin, cuckoo flower, meadowsweet, bugle and many others flower in profusion. There are small colonies of green-winged orchid and adders-tongue fern. Quaking grass and several uncommon sedge species are also present.

In summer you can expect to see all the typical grassland butterflies, plus many mayflies and dragonflies.

During the winter, when the Mead floods, large flocks of lapwing and golden plover come to feed along with other winter migrants.

For over 600 years Hunsdon Mead has been managed on the ancient Lammas system under which it is grazed by cattle or sheep in late summer after a July hay cut. It is this which accounts for its abundance of wildlife


Follow the Stort Navigation towpath from Roydon in the direction of Harlow – a walk of about one mile. The easiest parking is at Roydon station.

Roydon station (Liverpool St–Cambridge).

Accessible at all times.

From mid-April until the end of June for flowers, and later in the summer for dragonflies and other insects.

Between March and July please do not walk across or into the Mead itself until the hay is cut: trampling damages the plants and reduces the value of the grass as hay for the farmer. During this period please keep to the towpath or walk in single file along the permissive path beside the River Stort.

Photo © Tony Gunton