The Yellow Walk
Enter Wantsfield from Chapel Street and proceed straight ahead. This field is frequented by the cattle and you can
see one of the drinking troughs on the right.
Pass through the gap in the hedgerow into Coles. The hedgerow is popular with
dunnocks, tits, finches and warblers in spring and in late summer when they feed
on blackberries and elderberries. There is a good view to the East from here -
Norsey Wood can be seen to the left. Proceed straight ahead through Coles to the
next hedgerow, following the middle fork. You are now on the circular route that
is shared with the
C. Hilly Field
contains much hawthorn scrub and yellow broom which flowers in late April. The
path turns right and takes you down the slope towards the central hedge. This is one of
the best spots to hear the less common warblers on the Reserve in some years:
lesser whitethroat, garden warbler and willow warbler.
Cross the Millenium Bridge and pass through the cattle gate - you are entering Cumborrow, which is part of the SSSI. Primroses and dog
violets grow by the stream in springtime. Continue uphill, keeping slightly right. If you are on the
, turn left and follow the path back to the start at
Greens Farm Lane. On the Yellow Walk
: is one of the best areas for wildflowers, including Devils-bit scabious and, in
some years, harebells. In the autumn it is also good for fungi and includes some rarer waxcaps.
The view from here shows the Billericay skyline, and it is worth checking the sky for soaring sparrowhawks
at any time of year. Follow the path in a south-westerly direction along the ridge, keeping the slope
to your right. Pass through the cattle gate into Mouse Croft. If you look ahead there is a row of pine trees.
These were planted c 1900. The windmill, after which the Meadows are named, was sited just off the
reserve to the south and was used until the late 19th
. Follow the path as it turns in a north-westerly direction and down the
slope. This can be another good area for wildflowers. There is a patch of
mistletoe in the trees that slope down the hill from the west. At the bottom of
the hill the large trees are regularly used for nesting by green and
great-spotted woodpeckers. Follow the trail to the right into Bottom Mead, which is a small glade,
and one of the best areas to find blackcaps, bullfinches, long-tailed tits and, in autumn,
goldcrests. Cross the bridge through the woods. Sparrowhawks and tawny owls have
bred or roosted here. To the left are some very old pollarded oak trees along
the field boundary. The path leads into Coles.
Follow the path, with the hedgerow along your right, until the gap in the
hedgerow. If you are on the Yellow Walk
turn left to return to Chapel Street. If you are on the Green Walk
turn right. Refer to C, above.
The Green Walk
.Enter the Reserve from the Scout Hall car park through the gate and between the ponds.
Look in and around the ponds for tadpoles in spring and dragonflies in summer.
This is a good area to hear finches and song thrushes and in some years a
nightingale sings here.
This field is Butchers and is part of the SSSI. Common Spotted Orchids are
abundant in early summer. It also has birds-foot trefoil and, along the hedgerow
to the right, ox-eye daisies. Cowslips grow in the south-east corner. The
downward side of the path is one of the best areas for butterflies and can
include skippers and blues as well as abundant gatekeepers, peacocks and red
admirals. Proceed straight ahead through the gap in the hedge into Oakfield.
is a good area for birds in mid-Spring: Bullfinches cross the paths to forage in
the hedges and turtle doves and cuckoos are occasional visitors. The woodland on
the left includes some alder trees and these are popular with goldfinches and siskins in winter. The two common woodpeckers are both likely to be seen here. The wood is
the site of Greens Farmhouse. This was once occupied by servants who worked at
Gatwick House then leased by the Watts family,
who were the last farmers of Greens, before it was demolished in 1972.
The flora here include lady's smock (cuckooflower), marsh thistle,
sneezewort, tormentil and ragged robin. Proceed across the boardwalks and into
the next field, Cumborrow, and follow the path up the slope. The path joins the
here - refer to E, above.
(Alternative route marked with blue dotted line: from the Scout Hut, proceed
south through Butchers and through Watts and Greens (see map). This is, a good
area for bluebells, speckled wood butterflies and scrub-loving birds including
long-tailed tits, bullfinches, jays and warblers.)