Ingrebourne Valley LNR
371ac/150ha LNR, SSSI (part)
Grid ref: TQ 535 848 (click for o/s map)
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This Local Nature Reserve consists of Hornchurch Country Park – created in the early 1980s on the site of an abandoned World War II airfield, RAF Hornchurch – plus parts of the adjoining Ingrebourne Marshes SSSI, a fine wetland with a huge reedbed alongside marsh and flood meadow.
Redshank, lapwing and yellow wagtail breed on this kind of wet tussocky grassland, and kingfishers make their nest holes in the steep banks of the river. Many sedge and reed warblers nest here, and also cetti's warblers, one of our few resident warbler species. Water rails can occasionally be seen prowling around in the tall vegetation. Our smallest duck, the teal, overwinters on the ponds, snipe in the rough grassland, and bearded tits, and occasionally bittern, in the reedbeds. Barn owls can often be seen hunting over the open grassland and marsh harriers over the reedbeds.
With such a variety of wet and dry habitats the area is valuable for insects too. Banded demoiselles can be seen all the way down the river and it also supports some rarities, including the brown-banded carder bee. Its butterflies include white-letter hairstreak. The whole area is a stronghold for amphibians and reptiles, including marsh frogs that have arrived recently.
The visitor centre near the Squadrons Approach entrance is run by Essex Wildlife Trust and offers fine views across the marshes.
Main entrance on Squadrons Approach off Suttons Lane, about 2km south of Hornchurch town centre (reached from Upminster or Dagenham via the A124) via Station Lane. SatNav: RM12 6TS.
About 1km walk down Suttons Lane from Hornchurch station (District Line tube). Frequent bus services run to both entrance roads from Rainham, Hornchurch and Romford.
The park is accessible at all times; car parks open daylight hours only.
May–June for breeding birds; July–August for dragonflies and butterflies; migration periods for unusual birds sheltering in the marshes or plantations.
About 4 miles of surfaced paths suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.
Park Office phone 01708 554451.