Danbury Ridge Nature Reserves
Know before you go
Parking informationAt the main entrance there is limited parking off the side of the road
Grazing animalsOccasionally ponies and sheep
There are lots of paths winding through the woods and heath land, plus a nature trail
There are some inclines and un-surfaced paths can be muddy in winter, particularly the bridle path
When to visit
Opening timesAccessible at all times
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
The Danbury Ridge nature reserves are a mosaic of woodlands, heathlands, commons, streams and bogs, a wonderfully diverse range of rich habitats for many species. A particularly special feature of Danbury Ridge is the beautiful plant Lily-of-the valley, where a number of colonies thrive. Greater Butterfly Orchids, Sanicle, Yellow Archangel and other interesting and unusual wildflowers also flourish throughout the reserves. Work is being undertaken to open up and link together the fragile and important heathland areas within the reserves.
- Birch Wood is filled with colour in spring, as Wood Anemone, Wood Spurge, Wood Sorrel and Climbing Corydalis open their flowers. This 15 acre SSSI also has an old Hornbeam coppice, which is still worked on a 20 year cycle. As you walk among the trees keep an eye out for the unusual Golden-scaled Fern.
- Walk amongst the dense hummocks of Sphagnum moss, past the patches of Smooth and Star Sedges and the beautifully delicate flowers of Lesser Skullcap at the Pheasanthouse Wood (SSSI). The raised bogs and mixed woodland of this reserve are defining features of this reserve. You can also walk the footpaths around Pheasanthouse Farm, a working farm which has helped connect the surrounding habitats through its hedgerow network.
- Poors Piece (SSSI) is filled with old and gnarled Oak pollards, suggesting that once in its past it was a wood pasture, an incredibly biodiverse mosaic habitat. Pass through the woodland into the southern tip of the reserve and you’ll reach a marsh brimming with beautiful wetland plants, which, come spring, is filled with the yellow flowers of Agrimony, feathery fronds of Lady Ferns and the spiky tufts of Hop Sedge.
- From the North of Runsell Lane enter into Scrubs Wood, a beautiful woodland filled with rare Wild Service trees, old Oak standards and Chestnut and Hornbeam coppice. The gently sloping bank on the southern border is covered with a beautiful carpet of Wood Anenomes in spring. At night Dormice call the canopy home while poking through the woodland floor are yellow Tormentil and the nodding heads of Broad-leaved Helleborine Orchids. Passing from flower to flower are Small Copper, Ringlet and Brimstone butterflies while higher into the trees Nuthatches scurry down tree trunks, all three species of Woodpecker can be found drill their holes and occasionally a Nightingale can be heard serenading the woodland.
- Sessile Oaks, Rowans and even a scattering of Wild Service and Alder Buckthorn trees cover Woodham Walter Common (SSSI), with its open glades filled with the rich purple of Ling Heather in mid-summer. Its gravel covered plateau slopes down to two stream valleys where Sparrowhawks soar above in the search for prey. Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers sit in the arms of the Oaks with striking scarlet Fly Argaric fungi growing at the base.
- Spring Wood - 4 hectares
- Little Baddow Heath (mostly SSSI) - 20.2 acres
- Back Warden - 12.1 hectares
- Hitchcock's Meadow - 4 hectares
- Heather Hills - 7 hectares