The Paddock

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Things to do


Date of travel

March, 2021

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During lockdown, we’ve been exploring our local area much more and on recent visits to one of our favourite green spaces, “Walthamstow Wetlands”:, we decided to visit “The Paddock”: just over the border from Waltham Forest in Haringey.

This small nature reserve is set back from the busy Ferry Road with red railings, a distinctive sign The Paddock and in front, a verge with newly planted trees and cowslip clumps.

At the entrance, an information board told us about the interesting history of the land. Until the mid-19th century, it formed the northern half of the Mill Mead water meadow and was part of common land that supplied grain to Tottenham Mill. After World War I, it was used as a sports ground by the nearby Harris Lebus furniture factory, but when it closed, the land became largely derelict. However, it was occasionally used to graze horses hence its name, The Paddock. In the 1960’s excavation rubble from the construction of the nearby Victoria Line was deposited in the Paddock creating the small elevations.

Since 2000, the site has been open to the public as a Community Nature Park managed by the London Borough of Haringey.

As it is surrounded on two sides by water where the River Lea divides, it’s an important refuge for smaller birds, other aquatic animals and plants. Kingfishers are frequently seen, as are bats that feed on the abundance of wildlife.

The wilderness area in the center of The Paddock has grown up naturally to form young woodland and scrub dominated by elder, willow and blackberry. This provides a nesting site for birds such as song thrush, blackbird and various warblers. Weasels and hedgehogs have also been seen here.

Although it is only a relatively small site, it’s divided into five ‘character’ areas.

Character area 1 – here the eastern pedestrian entrance opens up onto a large meadow with a well-marked path which runs right around to:

Character area 2 – the western pedestrian and vehicle entrance and an area of hard standing which is the base for volunteer teams. The space is enclosed by vegetation with views to Ferry Lane.

Character area 3 – this central area is of rare mature elder and scrub woodland unique in Haringey. We followed the path which led us through to:

Character area 4 – is divided into a low-level meadow with picnic benches and an elevated seating space. Although we were visiting in March, it was a glorious sunny day with blue skies and we found a bench to sit on facing the sun enjoying the peace and tranquility. In one area, we could still see a huge amount of rubbish still to be cleared.

Character area 5 – is the natural bank of the old river is a rarity in the local area and is a key space for twitchers.

Despite its size, it’s a wonderful green space and at the moment, seemingly relatively undiscovered. However, bearing in mind the huge number of flats being built around Tottenham Hale, it’s unlikely to remain like that for long. It can be easily combined with a visit to Walthamstow Wetlands and more importantly, the nearby “Ferry Boat Inn”:

Note: whilst dogs are allowed in The Paddock, they’re not in the Wetlands.

Helen Jackson

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