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Ancient Forests and Landscaped Gardens (Part 2)
Across the road from Chigwell Row Wood is Hainault Forest (and the attached Country Park, with its rare breeds farm, lake, and open fields.)

There are also open fields on the other side of the village, at Chigwell Row Common.

Chigwell Row Common

where one of many paths and rides leads down into the Forest proper.

Forest Ride

Once part of the Forest of Essex, Hainault Forest consists of about 280 acres of woodland leased by the Woodland Trust, who have recently bought farmland on the Eastern edge of the Forest and intend to plant 55,000 trees there over the next ten years.

View from the Eastern End

It is already possible to walk, or ride on horseback or bicycle, from the Western edge of the Forest, where I live, Eastward through Hainault Forest to Havering Country Park without crossing a road, and then on to Bedfords Park if you are willing to ride twenty yards along the road near the Orange Tree Pub. I've done most of this in bits on horseback at one time or another when I used to ride at Havering Park Riding School, but this isn't me!

Riding in the Forest

The Forest started life as a private Royal hunting estate - "forest" in those days, simply meant it was where hunting took place, and did not imply woodland - and the open glades, of which there are many, are a relic of those times. It is in such glades that the deer would graze - and be brought to bay.

http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml?usejournal=lil_shepherdForest Clearing 2

The main effect on the forest, though, and one that continued for many years afterwards, was on the shape of the trees. At the Eastern end of the forest, the trees look pretty normal and, indeed, are - with the exception of a few oaks - fairly young.


This photo also shows one of the many drainage ditches after the recent rain.

However, in the older part of the wood, all the trees were pollarded at six to ten feet from the ground. This was partly to defeat browsing deer and cattle, which ordinary coppicing does not deter, and partly to produce branches ideal for firewood and to make charcoal (a major industry in this area.)


But when the pollards are neglected for many years - and in this case it was for over a hundred years - and they were many hundreds of years old to start with, the results are sensational.

Tangled Tree


Ancient Tree

There are hundreds of these Hornbeam pollards in Hainault Forest and, once again, make it distinctively man-made.

[to be continued.]

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This is very interesting - I don't know this part of the country at all. Lovely photos!

Thank you. Until I moved here I sort of thought of Essex as horrible and boring but even here, on the edge of the London boundary, it is beautiful and fascinating.

That second picture is utterly beautiful. And I love how creepy the pollarded trees look in the right light.

I keep waiting for fog - they should look utterly wonderful in that - but there hasn't been any for a while.

Yet more astonishing pictures. The British countryside never fails to surprise me.

The hornbeams make amazing sculptures. But my favourite is the top picture; the strip of light between two swathes of darkness is very atmospheric.

Must admit that, technically, I think that this is the best picture of the bunch.

Beautiful :) Thanks for sharing these. It's many years since I've spent any time in that area, and this is a lovely reminder.

I'm always amazed at how beautiful Essex is. It's not the impression you get from the propaganda.

Lovely pictures. Don't think I've ever been to the area . . .

Epping and Hainault Forests, not to mention the Lee/Lea/Leigh valley are East London's green playgrounds, but not exactly places that people from elsewhere make a special trip to visit. It's one of the reasons for these posts...

More lovely pictures. That looks like such a lovely place for a stroll on a leisurely day off.

You can stroll quite a long way!

We are still working our way through the local country parks and nature reserves.

It's great to have so much greenery and trees so nearby.

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