Grid ref: TQ 407 862 (click for o/s map)
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The former Wanstead Heath has a long history of grazing by local commoners, which saved it from destruction by private landowners in the 18th century. Since then it has been dissected by several main roads and much of it has been resown and levelled for football pitches. The remainder is still grazed by cattle.
It contains some of London's most extensive acid grassland, with small areas of ling heather and petty whin, a low-growing form of gorse. It also supports many unusual insects, including stag beetles, and nesting skylarks. It has six ponds, but only Alexandra Lake and Jubilee Pond retain water all year.
It also includes Bush Wood, a mature woodland, mainly oak, with some grassy glades and some massive trees, including some very large sweet chestnuts. Its birdlife includes great spotted woodpeckers, tawny owls and long-tailed tits. In the grassland to its south there is an historic avenue of lime trees.
South of Aldersbrook Road, between Wanstead and Forest Gate. There are three car parks, open during daylight hours. They are off Aldersbrook Road by Alexandra Lake, on the east side of Centre Road, and off Lake House Road near Jubilee Pond. SatNav: E11 3QS.
Train to Wanstead Park or Manor Park; several bus services.
Accessible at all times. Car parks are open during daylight hours.