Hainault Forest Country Park
Grid ref: TQ 475 928 (click for o/s map)
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What is now a country park was part of Hainault Forest's 'plains' and therefore was treeless, but it was invaded by birch and scrub when grazing ceased. Now, the dense cover attracts many breeding birds.
The many areas of rough grassland sheltered by 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 pipistrelle, noctule and daubenton's bats.
Greylag and canada geese, mute swans and mallards nest on and around the lake. They have been joined recently by egyptian geese, an introduced species once restricted to north Norfolk that has been spreading into London's parks.
In the north-west corner a small area of former heathland has been restored by removing invading birch and scrub, and heather and dwarf gorse has recolonised.
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). SatNav: IG7 4QW.
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.