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Sawbridgeworth Marsh

22ac/9ha  SSSI

Grid ref: TL 493 158 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

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This marshland nature reserve lies in the valley of the River Stort and consists of ten acres of waterlogged marsh, normally under an inch or two of water for most of the year; six acres of peaty meadow sloping up from the marsh to the eastern boundary; and a low-lying willow plantation to the south.

Most of it is in Hertfordshire and a small part in Essex, so it was acquired jointly by the Essex and Hertfordshire & Middlesex Trusts when the site became available in 1970.

It contains plants which were once quite common but are now found on only a few sites in the county, such as marsh willowherb and marsh valerian. Other uncommon plants include marsh arrow-grass, southern marsh orchid and blunt-flowered rush.

It has several open drainage ditches and two ponds rich in aquatic life. The areas of sedge, reeds and tall fen vegetation provide a valuable nesting habitat for reed and sedge warblers. Other breeding birds include snipe and water rail. In summer the reserve is alive with insects.


To the west of Hallingbury Road, an unclassified road from Sawbridgeworth to Gaston Green and Little Hallingbury.There is no car park, but there are two small lay-bys on the opposite side of the road about 200 yards north of the reserve entrance. Care should be taken since the road is narrow and traffic travels at high speeds.

About 800m north-east of Sawbridgeworth station: turn left outside the station then left into Hallingbury Road.

Accessible at all times.

Worth a visit at all times of the year but the spring and summer months are usually the most interesting.

Not suitable for wheelchair access because of wet conditions, narrow paths and plank bridges.

Wellingtons usually necessary.

Photo © Andrew Sapsford