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More about Fordham Hall

A gift from an anonymous donor, the Fordham Hall Estate is eastern England’s largest woodland creation site. Around a quarter of a million trees have been planted alongside the meandering River Colne on what was once arable farmland. Alongside young woodland there are also flower-rich meadows, which are awash with colour during the summer months.

Fordham Hall Estate is eastern England’s largest woodland creation site. A gift to the Trust from an anonymous donor, the 205ha (506 acres) of former farmland is undergoing a transformation.

Old maps show that since the 1770s much of the estate had been used for growing grain and potatoes. Long ago it would also have had flower-rich hay meadows on the low-lying land alongside the River Colne.

Since acquiring the estate the Trust has worked to re-create those meadows as well as planting around a quarter of a million trees. They include ash, hornbeam, oak and lime.

Fordham Hall New Planting Gareth Hughes
New planting on the Fordham Hall
Estate (Photo: G. Hughes/WTML)

In summer, Fordham’s new meadows are awash with wild flowers, while in marshy wetland areas by the Colne, damp-loving plants thrive. These include flag iris, brooklime and purple loosestrife.

The open water and lush vegetation along the Colne are a perfect habitat for dragonflies and damselflies. On summer days there can be scores of damselflies on the wing, including the beautiful banded demoiselle. If you are very lucky you may even spot an otter – they make their home on the tranquil, slow moving river too, resting up among the gnarled roots of old willows and alders.

With its wonderful riverside setting, wildflower meadows, wildlife, acres of new woodland and historic features, Fordham Hall Estate is a great place for family walks and picnics.

A total of 21 different butterfly species have been recorded across the estate, including three skipper species: small skipper, Essex skipper and large skipper. Butterflies are attracted to the estate’s meadows and its long stretches of hedgerow.

With its wonderful riverside setting, wildflower meadows, wildlife, acres of new woodland and historic features, Fordham Hall Estate is a great place for family walks and picnics.

Setting

Set in the Colne Valley, Fordham Hall Estate is a few miles from Colchester, Essex. At its heart is the small village of Fordham, which is surrounded by open fields with occasional small areas of woodland.

Maps: Landranger 168 or Explorer 184, grid reference: TL923284

Nearest amenities

Public conveniences
There are toilets at the Three Horseshoes pub in Fordham, which is open all day and is about half a mile (0.8km) from the wood car park. The nearest public toilets are at Colchester railway station, which is three miles (5km) from Fordham Hall Estate.

Refreshments
The Three Horseshoes in Church Road serves food. For details of alterfantives in Colchester visit TripAdvisor.

Accommodation and tourist information
For information about visiting the Colchester area go to Visit Colchester.

The town’s Information Centre is at Hollytrees Museum, Castle Park (01206 282920).

Access and walks

A network of 12 miles (19km) of unsurfaced paths allows visitors to explore the estate. The paths are cut regularly but can be muddy and slippery after rain, especially during winter.

The estate’s paths are popular with walkers (dogs are welcome), cyclists and horse-riders. Horse riding is allowed on a network of permissive bridleways that are part of the East Anglian Toll Ride scheme.

There are no waymarked trails at present. The estate does not have a single main entrance and it can be accessed using its network of paths.

Public rights of way crisscross Fordham Hall Estate. They include a section of the Essex Way, an 82 mile (132km) walking trail through the county from Epping to Harwich. The trail passes through the estate’s cricket bat willow. For details of the route visit Essex Way.

Directions

By bus
The nearest bus stop is at the War Memorial in Fordham. The bus (88A) journey to Colchester takes 29 minutes. For further information on public transport, contact traveline or call 0871 200 2233.

By train
Colchester station is located to the north of the town off Turner Road. It is about three miles (5km) from Fordham Hall Estate. For further information on public transport, contact traveline or call 0871 200 2233.

By car
The village of Fordham is at the centre of Fordham Hall Estate and is approximately six miles (10km) away from Colchester. From Colchester go west on the A133 and then join the A12 westbound. Leave the A12 at Junction 26 and take the A1124 exit to Halstead/Stanway.

At the top of the ramp, take the third exit off the roundabout onto the A1124. Continue on along the A1124 for about a mile (1.6km). At Eight Ash Green, the road bends sharply right and then left.

Immediately after the second bend go right onto Wood Lane, which is signposted to Fordham, and then go left onto Fiddlers Hill. Continue along Fiddlers Hill for one and a half miles (2.4km) to Fordham.

At the village pass the school on your right and keep driving until you see the post office and shop. There turn left to find the Trust’s car park close by on the right. The car park has space for 15 cars.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.