This woodland area, to the west of the River Cray as it heads north on its journey away from the main Foots Cray Meadows, provides a fascinating walk by the water.
This stretch of river between Five Arches and Water Lane is amongst the most productive for birds in the Meadows. The wooded areas play host to a myriad bird species including song thrush and blackbird (redwing and fieldfare in winter), great, blue, and long-tailed tits, chaffinch, wren, robin, dunnock, chiffchaff and blackcap (in summer), jay, goldfinch in the alders and many more.
The river itself is an important habitat for grey wagtail, little egret, grey heron and the stunning kingfisher. Extensive work to remodel the banks has been carried out – but fallen trees are often left in position to give the area a wonderful feel of a dense woodland rather than what it is now, a strip by the flowing chalk stream.
This woodland is the remains of what was an ancient Wet Alder woodland and it used to flood.
Royal Park / children's playground
To the far end of the Meadows, you will notice a children’s area, sitting in the north-west corner of Foots Cray Meadows – bounded to the east by the River Cray plus woodlands and to the west by houses. The stretch of grassland is known as Royal Park, which gives its name to the bordering housing estate constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Access to the site, one of 19 entrance points within the wildlife reserve known as Foots Cray Meadows, is via the far end of Riverside Road.
The Iron Bridges
Walking down from the children’s playground, you will reach the third of the three bridges that span the River Cray as it flows through Foots Cray Meadows. Some 40 metres in length, this is known by locals as the Iron Bridge, due to its obvious construction material.
There is another iron bridge crossing the river approximately 200 yards to the north of the Iron Bridge, where the Meadows end. This bridge runs from Riverside Road via a tarmac footpath to Water Lane and the North Cray Road.
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