This link in the chain of green spaces was once a private garden that belonged to the mansion at the top of the hill. Highams Park Lake – a much loved feature of this area – was designed by landscape gardeners who would have wanted to please the rich and important family who lived here.
It was created by damming the River Ching which flows through here and now its appeal is its natural state where plants and trees and wildlife flourish independent of too much interference from humans.
There are however some interventions that need to be made – there has been extensive flood prevention work to protect the houses nearby whilst the ducks and birds on the lake have sometimes needed help.
Swans may be seen swimming around gracefully and peacefully but some have had to be exiled to waters further away because of their aggressive and murderous intent towards the goslings who bob along behind their parents unaware of the dangers around here.
Away from the lake there is evidence of a housing estate that was constructed just after the Second World War from pre-fabricated buildings or prefabs as they were known. They were not meant to be permanent although a few still remain to this day in London and there is always the danger that once open space is developed – even for temporary buildings – it is lost forever to building developments.
But those prefabs were taken down and all that is left is one shed like building where the children of the estate attended Sunday School that is now a park café - the much loved Humphry's.
The footpaths that travel up and down and across the wide grassy slope are wide: they were once narrow roads that served the estate.
This area was once a gap between two stretches of Epping Forest, joined only by a narrow strip of land. Annexing this space has joined them together which means that it is possible to walk for many miles in the forest. And now that the green corridor is wider, there are opportunities for flora and fauna to spread and travel, effectively and safely with food and shelter along the way.
We can see some of those creatures every day – ducks and birds, squirrels and rodents. And we can observe the plants and flowers, trees and bushes. But there is so much more that is sometimes hidden away – mosses and fungi, butterflies and insects.
Highams Park Station