Harlow Marshes and Meadows

The Stort Valley Meadows consist of three separate parcels of land located in the River Stort Valley, two of which, (Marshgate Spring and Maymeads Marsh) are adjacent but separated by the London to Cambridge railway line. The third site, (Parndon Moat Marsh), is about one kilometre to the west.

The three sites are an important landscape feature showing the kind of wetlands, carr and swamps, which would naturally have been found in a river valley. Maymeads is an example of flood pasture grassland, now part of the Town Park. The wood at Marshgate Spring has seen coppicing in the past, though there is little that remains to indicate this. The Parndon Mill section has a former moated house site, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, partly lost when the railway was constructed through it, and the eastern end of this site was the Burnt Mill sewage farm until circa 1950, still indicated by the luxuriant growth of Nettles in this area.

These three sites are linked by drainage ditches to the River Stort, and they provide a mosaic of habitats including woodland, wetland, reedbeds, emergent vegetation and open water in ponds and channels which all support a rich diversity of wildlife.

On the other side of the town located alongside a brook off Katherines way sits Hawkenbury Meadow. Many species of wild meadow flowers and marshland plants sit peacefully within neutral grassland and mature woodland.  

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