Letter: Reasons to enjoy Wanstead Flats

People enjoying the good weather in Wanstead and Woodford. Rowing on Wanstead Flats in the early eve

Rowing on Wanstead Flats - Credit: Ken Mears

Lots going on at Wanstead Flats

Paul Donovan, Dangan Road, Wanstead, writes:

Wanstead Park and Flats must have contributed much to the sanity of people over the period of the pandemic.

Over the dark days of lockdowns, a walk in the park or across the flats as part of daily exercise offered a welcome respite.

Many people seem to have discovered the area for the first time over this period.

Bees and bluebells on Wanstead Flats. Picture: WansteadFlatsWomblE7

Bees and bluebells on Wanstead Flats - Credit: WansteadFlatsWomblE7

Local people are particularly protective of their open space, and rightly so.
The recent fantastic display of bluebells in Chalet Wood, drew people in from far and wide.

Not that many years ago, the bluebells were a fairly well kept secret but with the arrival of social media, the good news has been spread far and wide.

Another recent success has been the fencing off of a small area of the Flats to help protect the nesting skylarks.

The skylark is one of the iconic birds of Wanstead Flats, it nests all year round. Picture: Barry Ch

It is hoped that the skylark population will grow - Credit: Barry Chapman

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The population has been dwindling over recent years, so it is hoped this extra protection will help the birds prosper in future.

And there is more to come with the long horn cattle returning to the park in August.

Three long horns crazed in the park for a couple of months last summer, proving hugely popular with the public. Their return is eagerly awaited.

Another development resulting from the pandemic has been the wild flower field planted on the flats, near the City of London cemetery, where the temporary morgue stood early last year.

A temporary mortuary for coronavirus victims is being built at Wanstead Flats. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

The temporary morgue that was built for Covid victims is now a wild flower field - Credit: PA Images

A fitting natural memorial to that grim period.

The City of London Corporation have plans for future developments. There is a consultation on cycling in the park. The three options being to stay as things are, ban cycling altogether or allow cycling throughout the park.
I’d favour the third option but would like to see some restoration of paths, so that cyclists and pedestrians can co-exist without tearing up the terrain, something that has happened due to the heavier footfall over wet periods in recent months.

There is much happening and lots to be done but this is also a time to give thanks for our fantastic open spaces in Wanstead and to those who have maintained them – and by extension us – over these recent difficult times.

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