Grid ref: TL 883 147 (click for o/s map)
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Tiptree Heath is a small fragment of a huge heathland that used to stretch from Maldon to Messing, covering thousands of acres. It is the finest and largest area of heath in Essex, and the only place where you will find all three native heather species growing together.
After being nibbled away by enclosure for centuries, the remaining heath was ploughed up for agriculture during World War II. But it produced only poor crops, and in 1955 was sown with grass seed and left to look after itself. The result was that some of it turned into light woodland and scrub, but on large areas the heathland plants reappeared.
Recently, radical measures have been taken to restore it, including bulldozing down to the mineral soil, and some areas have been fenced off so that they can be grazed by Exmoor ponies.
Ling heather, which is tall and vigorous enough to survive in gorse, covers large areas, and there are areas of bell heather and a small amount of cross-leaved heath that prefers the wetter parts. Harebells appear in late summer, and other unusual wild plants, include heath dog-violet, allseed and chaffweed.
The heath straddles the B1022 (Colchester–Maldon) 800m on the Maldon side of Tiptree. SatNav: CO5 0PU.
A regular bus service between Maldon and Colchester runs along the B1022 past the heath.
Accessible at all times.
April to see acres of gorse in flower; July–September for late flowers, including the heather, and grassland butterflies.
Call the Community Warden on 07842 110051.