Hunsdon Mead Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Visitors are advised to keep to the marked tracks so to avoid disturbing the hay tracks. Please do not walk across or into the Mead itself until the hay is cut.
When to visit
Opening timesAccessible at all times
Best time to visitApril to July
About the reserve
This 68 acre of common land between the River Stort and the Stort Navigation is one of the finest surviving areas of unimproved grassland in Eastern England. The Hertfordshire & Middlesex and Essex Wildlife Trusts acquired it jointly in 1981. What to look for: The Mead provides a superb display of flowering plants. In April and May it is yellow with cowslips and marsh marigolds. As May gives way to June colours change continually, as plants such as yellow rattle, ragged robin, lady's smock, meadowsweet, bugle and many others flower in profusion. There are small colonies of green-winged orchid and adder's-tongue fern. Quaking grass and several uncommon sedge species are also present. All the typical butterflies of hay meadow occur and the day-flying small yellow underwing moth is also established. Mayflies and dragonflies are much in evidence. During the winter, when the Mead floods, large flocks of lapwing and golden plover come to feed along with other winter migrants. Accessible at all times. Between March and July please do not walk across or into the Mead itself until the hay is cut; trampling damages the plants and reduces the value of the grass as hay for the farmer. During this period please keep to the towpath or walk in single file along the permissive path beside the River Stort. Directions - Follow the Stort navigation towpath from Roydon in the direction of Harlow - a walk of about one mile. The easiest parking is at Roydon station. Public Transport - Roydon railway station (Liverpool Street-Cambridge line) Did you know? For over 600 years Hunsdon Mead has been managed on the ancient Lammas system under which it is grazed by cattle or sheep after a July hay cut. It is this which accounts for its abundance of wildlife.