Sketch-map of Leyton Flats (E11) showing the 'Private Grounds' of Snaresbrook Crown Court northeast of the Flats: Map

Snaresbrook Crown Court:  75 Hollybush Hill, London E11 1QW [Location map]

Closest tube station: Snaresbrook (Central line)

Leyton Flats is an open area that is part of Epping Forest. The main habitats are an acid grassland plain, two large ponds and fragmented woodland. The acid grassland contains some plant species that are now of restricted distribution in the south -east, these include Mat-grass, Fine-leaved Fescue, Wavy-hair Grass and Purple-moor Grass. The two large ponds, Hollow Pond and Eagle Pond are the outcome of past gravel workings. The woodland is mainly Oak and Birch with an understorey of Holly. The grassland area is good for watching migration and the scrub here attracts migrants in spring and autumn. The Eagle Pond has the greater wildfowl population, however the Hollow Pond tends to attract the more unusual species, particularly during the autumn and winter. The woodland comprises of the usual common species, though Nuthatch and Treecreeper can be hard to locate. I recorded 84 species in 2007. Gary A James.

Below is a supplementary 2012 site description from the Wanstead Wildlife website, reprinted with permission from Paul Ferns:

Leyton Flats is, like the somewhat similar Wanstead Flats, an open area in the southern reaches of Epping Forest, close to, and almost surrounded by, heavily populated residential areas. The borders of Leyton Flats are Whipps Cross Road to the south-west, Lea Bridge Road in the west, Snaresbrook Road in the north and the Central Line railway cutting and Hollybush Hill (road) to the south and the east. The private grounds of Snaresbrook Crown Court are in the north-east corner as is the Eagle Pond, which is part of Epping Forest. More forest land in the neighbourhood of Whipps Cross Hospital is separated from Leyton Flats by Whipps Cross Road.

Leyton Flats proper comprises about 75 hectares of land, of which 38 hectares is flat open grassland, 20 hectares woodland and the rest mainly ponds or wet areas. The whole lies on the Boyn Hill Terrace of pebble gravel and alluvium, for which past workings have produced the pits and spoil heaps to be found in parts of the area. The habitats thus formed account at least in part for a flora that differs to some degree from that of the superficially similar environments of Wanstead Flats, with which some interesting comparisons may be made. The same cattle grazed on Leyton Flats as on Wanstead Flats, though it seems that they had preference for the latter which might be related to differences in the vegetation of the two areas.

Poor drainage of rain-water from Leyton Flats give rise to considerable waterlogging of the grassland, particularly during winter. There are a number of drainage ditches across the area, of which some drain to the Hollow Pond or the Eagle Pond. Numerous other ponds or damp hollows are mostly the result of past gravel diggings and are scattered around the north and west edges. They have a variety of shapes and sizes, and of these only that at the west edge of the Flats by Lea Bridge Road normally has a covering of water for any length of time. At the north end of the large Hollow Pond is a much smaller expanse of water known as the Round Pond, which drains into its larger neighbour. The water that feeds this pond is mainly gathered from Gilbert's Slade to the north. There are some kiosks and a boat-house by the Hollow Pond, the only buildings on the Flats. In a birch wood adjacent to the fence of Snaresbrook Crown Court (once the Royal Wanstead School and before that the Infant Orphan Asylum) and close to the Eagle Pond, is Birch Well. This is a small spring enclosed by a stone surround about five feet across, once used for drinking water. Particularly in the north and west part of the Flats and mainly around the edge are areas of woodland; there is a scattering of trees elsewhere. For an account of water-courses on Leyton Flats in years past, see Wanstead Watercourses: the "River Holt" by Barry Hughes.

There are no deliberately planted groups of diverse species of trees as are to be found on Wanstead Flats, nor roadside lines or avenues. However, towards the east end of Whipps Cross Road there is a copse of trees which contain a number of Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), evidently deliberately planted. There is in the south-east part of the area a quite extensive patch of mixed gorse and broom scrub, and another area predominantly of gorse north-east of the Hollow Pond. There are no close-mown playing-fields as on Wanstead Flats, the only mown grass being by Whipps Cross Road and used as a picnic or recreation area. The overall "roughness" of the whole area as compared to Wanstead Flats with its large areas of playing fields seems to put a different emphasis on the recreation and sporting activities which are undertaken. There is virtually no football, cricket or golf practice, nor model aircraft or boats, but there is horse-riding, and the hilly banks of the Hollow Pond are used by numbers of motor and pedal-cycle riders as a sort of scramble course. This activity contributes to the sparsity of plant growth around these lakes. For these reasons, and as little deliberate seeding or planting takes place nor apparently is there much casual dumping of garden refuse, Leyton Flats presents a somewhat wilder appearance than does Wanstead Flats.

Roger Orwin: Leyton Flats Patch List 2014 (Started 1st September 2014)

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, ChiffChaff, Willow Warbler, Grey Heron, Wren, Jay, Carrion Crow, Starling, Coot, Morehen, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Mistle Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Ring Necked Parakeet, Robin, Black Bird, Tufted Duck, Black Headed Gull, Mute Swan, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Pochard, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Greylag Goose, Kestrel, Gadwall, Shovler, Goldcrest, Ferral Pigeon, Song Thrush, Common Buzzard, Kingfisher. (species 43).

Gary A James 2008 Bird List

Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Mandarin, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Merlin, Moorhen, Coot, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Lesser Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting. (87 species)

2009 Patchlist [1]

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