Gunpowder Park, Sewardstone Marsh & Rammey Marsh
Visit the park with an explosive history!
Once upon a time they tested munitions here, and visits were not recommended! But today Gunpowder Park has been transformed into an exciting 115 hectares country park where people, wildlife and the arts coexist in a rather more peaceful environment.
The park has been shaped into four specific regions which all offer different experiences. It is an ideal venue for walkers and cyclists, with a comprehensive network of surfaced paths accessible to all and a summer use bridleway, which circles the arable fields. There are also extensive invertebrate rich wildflower meadows and a large tract of scarce wet woodland that provide the wildlife interest for species including Skylark, Goldfinch, six different species of bats, and Small Health.
The site is host to a range of leisure based events and activities exploring the wildlife and the environment which occur throughout the year e.g.; Park Run and fitness walks. Both local schools and those from further afield, with the help of our Youth and Schools team are now using the site for various projects. From 2016 the park retained a Green Flag Award and achieved a London in Bloom Gold Award and was also voted the Country Park of the Year in its category.
Sewardstone Marsh is a real gem and quite a rarity in modern Britain – a wetland habitat where you can enjoy discovering thriving populations of amazing animals and plants.
Marshes are very important places for hundreds of wildlife species. That’s why Sewardstone Marsh is so important, and such a fascinating place to visit.
Gravel extraction has left pools which are perfect for dragon flies and aquatic animals, and the natural seasonal flooding of parts of the area attract wintering birds like the Snipe. Plus with many meandering paths and delightful picnic spots, Sewardstone Marsh, is a great place to bring the family and get closer to a very special natural space.
Just to the east of Enfield you’ll discover another important wildlife haven that’s home to an astonishing variety of wildlife.
Pipistrelle bats, Water Voles, bee and Pyramidal Orchids and no less than 225 other different plant species are amongst the attractions at Rammey Marsh. And at nearby Enfield Lock on the Lee Navigation anglers will discover just about the best fishing on the river.
An archaeological evaluation of the south-western corner of the Park recorded a number of 10th to 13th Century features, consisting of a line of postholes and associated gullies, ditches and pits, possibly representing a substantial structure. Roman and Prehistoric material was also recovered, probably eroded from the hilltop to the north.
The site has a long and rich history associated with the medieval town of Waltham Abbey and with Epping Forest. However, it is the recent history as a Royal Ordnance site that has most influenced its character. The Royal Ordnance site initially developed in 1885, as an extension of the Royal Gunpowder Mills Factory just to the north.
Established on Quentin Hill, a purpose built Guncotton factory increased the capacity of production at Waltham Abbey. It was later supplemented by a nitro-glycerine factory, which then closed in 1996.
In 1999, 90 hectares (222 acres) was purchased by LVRPA, including approximately 33 hectares of agricultural land not included within the former ordnance site, which had been continuously farmed.
Wildlife and habitats
Gunpowder Park has a wide variety of habitats connecting with each other throughout the site. These include a mixture of grassland habitats, woodlands and wet woodlands, ditches, pools and arable land. These habitats support a variety of species for both flora and fauna. There are different surveys which take place throughout the year to monitor some of these species.
There are also links with other organisations to monitor species such as Froglife with the dragon finder project and Essex Bat Group who have set up a load of bat boxes within the woodland area.
The grasslands of Gunpowder Park provide areas for breeding birds including the UK Priority Species and red-listed Skylark (Alauda arvensis) and the amber-listed Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis). The owl boxes on site are used frequently by Little Owl (Athene noctua), the amber-listed Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) has been recorded infrequently in the Sewardstone Marsh Woodland. Birds of prey are known to be present including Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Hobby (Falco subbuteo), a summer visitor to the site and increasingly Red Kite (Milvus milvus).
Summer migrants such as Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) and Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) can also be found on site.
The wet woodlands at Osier Marsh can attract flocks of wintering thrushes and mixed flocks of tits. Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is also known to be present. Wintering Teal (Anas crecca) and Gadwall (Anas strepera) can be found on the secluded pools in the woodland.
The amber-listed Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) can be seen feeding on the wet grasslands of Patty Pool Mead, Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) a UK Priority Species have been seen displaying but breeding has not been recorded in recent years.
Sedge (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) alongside the UK Priority Species, Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) are known to breed on site and are associated with the wetland habitats notably along Black Ditch. Sacrificial seed-rich crops are sown within the farmland to provide food during the winter for the red-listed farmland birds, Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella).
The frontage of the Field Station provides excellent breeding habitat for the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) a UK Priority Species
Small mammal trapping was carried out in 2002 for the first time. This recorded the presence of Bank Voles (Clethrionomys glareolus), Field Voles (Microtus agrestis), Common Shrews (Sorex araneus), Wood Mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), Harvest Mice (Micromys minutes), and House Mice (Mus musculus).
Surveys have recorded over 750 species of invertebrate on site, the recent survey (Gunpowder Park Invertebrate Survey Report, P Harvey 2013) recorded 460 species of which there were 2 UK Priority Species, 5 Red Data Book species and 30 Notable and Near Threatened and recognised the site to be of regional importance for invertebrates.
In total 26 species of butterfly have been recorded on site including the UK Priority Species Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) in Knights Pits and infrequently Wall (Lasiommata megera).
There are records of at least 12 species of dragonfly; however, it is likely that other species are also present. The Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum), a Regional Species of Conservation Concern was first recorded on site at Knights Pits in 2002.
If you have any further questions, If you have any further questions please contact our general enquires team and we’ll be happy to help