Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve



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It has been claimed that no other forest on earth evokes the atmosphere of a medieval hunting forest so completely as the Hatfield Forest NNR. It is home to over 3,500 species of wildlife, and the ancient trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old, provide the perfect habitat for some of the forest’s rarest insects, lichens and fungi. The coppices and pasture are now extremely rare, providing a refuge for beetles and fungi, wildflowers and other insects. Hatfield is renowned for its mistletoe and also its fantastic displays of buttercups in late May. Many species of butterfly can be seen, including the woodland-loving white admiral, painted lady, large tortoiseshell, Essex skipper and purple emperor. Large populations of beetles can be seen on fallen trees around the forest, including stag, rhinoceros and lesser stage beetles. The woodland is home to range of birds such as marsh tits and nightingales. You can also see and hear hawfinch, yellowhammers and green woodpeckers. Birds of prey such as buzzards and sparrowhawks are often seen soaring over the open areas.

Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Essex

Essex is full of pleasant surprises. It has the largest coastline of any county in England, with its fair share of castles, royal connections and scenic valleys. Take Colchester, for example, which was built by the Romans and is Britain’s oldest recorded town. Its castle contains the country’s largest Norman keep and yet, a stone’s throw from here, East Anglia’s newest arts centre promises to put Colchester firmly on the map as Essex’s capital of culture.

Tidal estuaries are plentiful and their mudflats offer migrating birds a winter feeding place. Essex was known as the land of the East Saxons and for centuries people from all over Europe settled here, each wave leaving its own distinctive cultural and social mark on the landscape. Walking a little off the beaten track will lead you to the rural retreats of deepest Essex, while all over the county there are ancient monuments to explore: 

  • the great Waltham Abbey
  • Greensted, thought to be the oldest wooden church in the world
  • the delightful village of Pleshey has one of the finest examples of a former motte-and-bailey castle
  • Hedingham Castle, magnificently preserved and dating from the 11th century.

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