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Hackney Marshes

Hackney Marshes form one of the largest areas of common land in London – a vast, flat area which was once a place for local people to bring their animals to graze.

A walk across this open space seems to take a very long time and appears to be a giant lawn of grass.

But underfoot there are tiny flowers amongst the blades of grass – daisies and chamomile with their pretty miniature discs of white petals. And all around the perimeter of the marsh there are trees and shrubs, full of wildlife.

It is much more interesting to follow the path around the edge of the marsh and to notice the sweet smell of the earth and hear the papery rustling of the leaves on the trees.

It may even be possible to be rewarded with the sound or sight of the birds that live here, including chaffinches, blue tits and green woodpeckers – the largest of three species of woodpeckers found in the British Isles. There are also song thrushes who feed on the open land and roost in the trees.

It is as though this landscape has been designed especially for them. But it is more likely that a crow or a murder of crows can be spotted, pecking at the grass.

Part of Hackney Marshes is East Marsh. With over three hundred tress, including three rare mature native black poplars, this area of the marshes was threatened by the arrival of the Olympic Games with plans to tarmac over the grassland, a vital feeding place for gulls and starlings, wood pigeons, butterflies and rabbits.

It was used as a car park but is now restored – vigilance and patience has paid off and there is little evidence that the continuous preservation of this space was for a while interrupted.

Human effort and nature have worked to rewild this precious space.

Walk from Queen Elizabeth Park or from Leyton Marshes or from the River Lea Twopath


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