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Park of the Month - MAY 2024
LONG WOOD

This month we are exploring a small but beautiful gem of a nature reserve at a time when it is carpeted with bluebells

About Long Wood

Long Wood is one of the finest remnants of ancient woodland in the Brent River Park and home to a rich variety of tree species and wildlife, and is for many a hidden, undiscovered part of Ealing with a wild woodland and many criss crossing paths to meander through its 1.2 hectares.  It is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade 1.  Situated between Warren Farm and bounded by the M4 motorway on the south and a railway line to the east it has a vigorous stream flowing through it, which while marshy on the eastern side has a wooden raised walkway to help navigate that area. 

Long Wood used to be part of Osterley Park, owned by Sir Thomas Gresham (c.1519-1579). It is thought to be the site of one of the first paper mills in the UK. Now the site is a nature reserve, home to many diverse species

Sir Thomas Gresham was a merchant and investor, who served King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I. He bought the Osterley Estate in 1562, upon which he built a substantial brick house. He founded a mill to process corn, oil and paper on the stream that runs through Osterley Park and Long Wood. Archaeological evidence of a building from Gresham's time has recently been found here, possibly remains of the water mill. Look for the large earth mounds in the middle of the wood. These are believed to be the remains of a dam across the stream, built to provide the flow of water needed to drive the mill wheel.

The mill deteriorated within 15 years of Gresham's death, returning Long Wood to nature, Now the low-lying parts of the site are wetland and a refuge for water loving plants such as rushes and sedges. There is one patch of opposite-leaved

golden saxitrage which Is its only known location in the whole borough ot Ealing

The sloping edges of the valley form a different habitat. These are quite dry, attracting a different set of plants and animals. In places here the native English bluebell grows abundantly and forms an attractive sight when it flowers in the spring. Parts of Long Wood are believed to constitute Ancient Woodland - meaning they have remained undisturbed for at least 500 years. Only the M4 passing by overhead is a rude reminder of the modern world.

 

Why Visit

Bluebells!  At this time of year the woods are carpeted with bluebells giving a misty blue haze through the trees and a fresh scent throughout.  

Sadly, bluebells are in decline, because of the loss of much of their native woodland habitat, and also because the remaining woodland is not always managed in a way that encourages their growth.

The flowers, which tend to bloom in April and May, struggle to grow when a wood becomes too dark and shady, so the council’s rangers have been thinning the densest foliage to allow more light to reach the floor, and planting the seeds.  Another problem faced by native bluebells is that the Spanish bluebell has been imported and widely planted as a garden species,  which then cross-pollinates with wild UK bluebells to create a hybrid species.

Long Wood therefore is a key area for flora and fauna with its open areas, marshy ground and trees attracting all kinds of wildlife and plantlife in addition to the bluebells, false brome, wood millet, with wet areas having as mentioned the opposite leaved golden-saxifrage and large bittercress which are rare in London.  Another unusual feature is a mature oak and cherry tree which appear to have the same trunk! It is also a delightful area to visit at any time of the year and leads to Lord Jersey's Field up a slope through a gate in which ponies graze.  Follow that route to Warren Farm which will be covered in another Park of the Month in the near future.

 

How to Get Here

Long Wood, Windmill Ln, Isleworth TW7 5PR 

By Tube: Nearest Tube Station is Osterley which is c. 25 minute walk

By Bus: H91 to Wood Lane and c. 20 minute walk; E8 to Busch Corner, c. 28 minute walk

By Car: can be accessed by parking in the Hare and Hounds the nearby pub in Windmill Lane (but please do pop in and have a coffee or a meal if doing this) - come out of the car park, turn right and walk under the bridge, the entrance to Long Wood is on your right.  

You can also walk from or park near Trumpers Way and walk over bridge c. 13 minute walk.

 

 

 

 

 

Another route is to walk to or park near the entrance to Warren Farm and walk along Windmill Lane to the entrance - or indeed through Warren Farm itself.

Please note that Long Wood sadly is not easily accessible for wheelchairs etc. due to the steps, slopes and unmade up paths.

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