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Country parks and nature reserves

We understand that the borough’s parks are vitally important for both physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, our green spaces will remain open at this time.

However, the government’s social distancing guidelines now apply. This is a priority and not a choice. While you can currently still go for a walk or exercise outdoors, you must stay more than 2 metres (6 feet) from each other and not use children’s playgrounds or outdoor gym equipment.

We have taken the difficult decision to close Barking Park visitor centre and the Discovery Centre at Eastbrookend Country Park. Similarly, to support social distancing guidelines, Barking Park café, boating and Splash Park facilities are closed.

Due to considerable heavy rainfall in recent weeks, the ground conditions in our parks are very wet at present.  Pathways may be flooded and some areas of the country parks and nature reserves are currently inaccessible.  When using our parks, please stay on the main hard-surfaced pathways wherever possible, and do take care if you need to walk on any grass, as the ground could be very slippery.  

For the latest information on changes to our park facilities and services, including opening times and social distancing, please check our updates page:

Latest changes to our park services and facilities 


 

Find country parks and nature reserves in the borough, see what facilities they have, what activities are on offer and how accessible they are for disabled users.

If you're not sure where your nearest country park and nature reserve is, type your postcode into Find my nearest to see what's in your area.  

Out and about in the Dagenham Corridor Toggle accordion

Out and about in the Dagenham Corridor - leaflet (PDF, 2.8MB)

Dagenham Corridor - Map (PDF, 1.5MB)

Out and about in the Dagenham Corridor

The Dagenham Corridor:

  • Eastbrookend Country Park
  • The Chase Local Nature Reserve
  • Beam Valley Country Park
  • Beam Parklands

The Dagenham Corridor offers over 500 acres of countryside for local people and visitors to enjoy and is home to a wonderful array of wildlife. 

This important section of Green Belt was set aside after the Second World War to stop the sprawl of London merging into the surrounding counties. This beautiful stretch of open green space runs from Hainault to the River Thames and includes Eastbrookend Country Park, The Chase Local Nature Reserve, Beam Valley Country Park and Beam Parklands. The Dagenham Corridor is a hugely important landscape for wildlife, with a combination of wetlands and drier acid grasslands providing crucial habitat for a wide variety of birds and invertebrates. 

Eastbrookend - a brief history

Eastbrookend was once a patchwork of small fields producing fruit and vegetables that were sent to the markets of London. As London expanded the demand for housing grew and gravel was extracted from the area to build new homes, dramatically changing the landscape. The excavation of gravel left deep pits, some of which were used for rubbish disposal and others were left to fill with water and created the lakes that can be seen across the park today.

Eastbrookend Country Park

In 1991 the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham began landscaping the area to create a country park for everyone to enjoy. Thousands of tonnes of soil were moved, hundreds of trees planted, and the park was opened in June 1995. The park has continued to develop and now provides plenty of opportunities for formal and informal recreation, including: 

  • wildlife areas such as woodlands and wildflower meadows
  • community orchard
  • fishing lakes
  • self-guided nature trail 
  • network of footpaths and cycle ways

Eastbrookend Discovery Centre

In the heart of Eastbrookend Country Park, the Discovery Centre is the focal point for visitors to the Dagenham Corridor. The building forms a natural gateway into the wide-open spaces of Eastbrookend Country Park, the Chase Local Nature Reserve and beyond. A self-guided, circular nature trail, which begins and ends at the Discovery Centre, provides an easy way to explore some of the surrounding woodland and lakes.

The Discovery Centre was built using a variety of environmentally-friendly and sustainable building methods and materials. The centre is fully accessible and features a display introducing the history of the site along with the following facilities:

  • café and seating area
  • public toilets (including accessible toilet and baby changing facilities)
  • education room (available for school visits, events and private room hire)
  • bicycle racks 

The centre is also the base of the Park Ranger Service and is one of the venues for outdoor learning in the borough.

The Discovery Centre and Cafe opening times vary throughout the year, so please check the Discovery Centre webpage before your visit.   

The Chase Local Nature Reserve  

Come and explore one of the best urban nature reserves in Essex. The Chase LNR covers 48 hectares with a patchwork of habitats, including shallow wetlands, reed beds, horse grazed pasture, scrubland, river and woodland. 

The reserve is home to an impressive array of animals and plants, including the UK’s rarest native tree, the Black Poplar. Other notable plants include spiny restharrow, warty cabbage and black mustard. 

The site is also a haven for birds with around 200 different species recorded here throughout the year; from snipe on The Slack and kingfishers along the River Rom to reed warblers in the many reed beds dotted around the reserve. Skylark, little ringed plover and lapwing have all been recorded breeding here, but The Chase is best known for its rare visitors during the migration periods such as pine bunting, great snipe and spotted crake.

Other animals include water voles, great crested newts, slow worms and badgers.

Beam Valley Country Park

As the River Rom flows onwards it becomes the River Beam and enters the Beam Valley Country Park South of the railway line. This area of river floodplain, scrub and grassland habitat supports a wide range of wildlife. Hidden amongst the vegetation you may notice pillboxes and other historical features dating back to the second world war.  

In 2014 a new footbridge was installed, which links Beam Valley to Bretons Park, opening up the valley for informal access on foot or bicycle. Look out for the Sustrans portrait bench with 3 life-size sculptures of historical and cultural figures from the area, chosen by the local community. 

Beam Parklands

Managed in partnership with The Land Trust, Beam Parklands is located where the River Wantz meets the River Beam. The parkland’s primary function is as flood defence, providing safe storage of 450,000m3 of water - equivalent of around 180 Olympic swimming pools - that in turn protects neighbouring homes, schools and businesses from flooding.

For a few days each year, after heavy rains, some parts of the site will be underwater. However, the paths and bridges have been designed to withstand flooding and the habitats created here represent environments that naturally experience regular flooding.

Along the rivers and floodplain are wildlife-rich reed beds, shallow ponds and marsh areas. The Parklands also support large areas of acid grassland which is scarce in the South East. 

Access

The Dagenham Corridor can be enjoyed on foot at any time of year during daylight hours. All access points onto the Dagenham Corridor consist of a squeeze barrier and many also have RADAR accessible gates.  

Cycling is permitted at Eastbrookend Country Park, Beam Valley and Beam Parklands but not on The Chase Local Nature Reserve. 

The Countryside Code

When visiting the Dagenham Corridor please follow The Countryside Code:

  • be safe, plan ahead and obey all signs (e.g. no fishing)
  • protect plants and animals, and take all your litter home
  • no BBQs or fires allowed
  • keep dogs under close control and ‘bag & bin’ dog waste
  • leave gates and property as you find them
  • consider other people

Dog walking

The Dagenham Corridor is a great place for dogs, and responsible dog ownership is encouraged. Please be aware that not all park users are comfortable with dogs, so we ask that dogs are kept under close control at all times.  

Free dog-waste bags are provided at Eastbrookend Discovery Centre to help you clean up after your dog and keep the site clean and healthy for everyone to enjoy. From time to time there may be a need for dogs to be on a lead in certain areas due to nesting birds, grazing horses or site works, so please follow any notices displayed. 

Eyes and ears in your parks and greenspaces 

Please help the Ranger Service by reporting any problems you see or ideas that you have that will improve your enjoyment of the parks and nature reserves in the borough.

Telephone 020 8227 2332 or email rangers@lbbd.gov.uk.

Please let us know:

  • if you see anything that is dangerous, broken, untidy or injurious to the public or wildlife and their habitat.
  • if you see anyone vandalising your park or greenspace, acting dangerously, or illegally using motorbikes or other motorised vehicles. 

If in immediate danger dial 999, otherwise contact:

  • Eastbrook Safer Neighbourhoods Team: 020 8721 2538 (for Eastbrookend and The Chase) or 
  • Village Safer Neighbourhoods Team: 020 8649 3530 (for Beam Valley and Beam Parklands) or 
  • Metropolitan Police non-emergency line 101. 

These parks belong to you, please help us to look after them and keep them enjoyable for everyone. 

Events and activities

The Dagenham Corridor is a fantastic place to experience and learn about the natural environment. The Ranger Service provides a wide range of events and activities for everyone throughout the year from fun family events to themed guided walks.  

To find out what’s going on and how to get involved please check our events pages on Eventbrite, or follow us on Twitter: @BDParkRangers.

Environmental Education and Outdoor Learning 

Our year-round programme of outdoor learning brings subjects to life as pupils enjoy experiencing nature through practical activities in the open air.

A wide range of outdoor learning opportunities are provided for visiting schools and other groups. All sessions are fun, linked to the National Curriculum and can be adapted to the relevant age groups. 

For more information visit the Outdoor Classroom webpage.

Volunteering

The Ranger Service relies on the support of its volunteers to manage the Dagenham Corridor and other green spaces across the borough. If you would like to lend a helping hand to protect your local environment and the wildlife that lives there, then consider joining our friendly team of Conservation Volunteers. No experience is necessary as the Rangers can teach you new skills and how to safely use tools and equipment. Please contact the Ranger Service for further information, current projects and locations. 

How to find us

Eastbrookend Discovery Centre is well served by public transport and so we would encourage people to leave the car at home and use the train, bus, bicycle or walk.

Train

Dagenham East Underground Station on the District Line is a 15-20 minute walk from the Discovery Centre. 

Bus

The 174 bus stop is located a 3 minute walk from the Discovery Centre.

Cycling

There is a cycle path along Dagenham Road, a number of cycling trails through the parks and bicycle racks at the Discovery Centre.

Car

There is a car park at the Discovery Centre with allocated spaces for blue badge holders.

Further information

If you would like to know more about the services and opportunities offered across The Dagenham Corridor then please contact The Ranger Service:

Park Ranger Service
Eastbrookend Discovery Centre
Eastbrookend Country Park
The Chase (off Dagenham Road)
Dagenham
RM7 0SS

Telephone: 020 8227 2332
Email: Rangers@lbbd.gov.uk 
Twitter: @BDParkRangers 

 

Beam Parklands Country Park and Beam Valley

Visit The Land Trust website for information on the Country Park and Beam Valley, including location, opening times, activities, facilities, events and accessibility.

Beam Parklands Country Park website

The Chase Local Nature Reserve

Visit The Chase Local Nature Reserve website for information on location, opening times, activities, facilities, events and accessibility.

The Chase Local Nature Reserve website

Eastbrookend Country Park

Provides local people with the chance to experience the pleasures of the countryside on their doorstep.

Eastbrookend Country Park website

Ripple Nature Reserve

Ripple Nature Reserve is currently closed to the public until further notice.

Ripple Nature Reserve covers about 10.1 hectares and is a tapestry of birch woodland, scrub and grassland.

Location

Renwick Road, Barking IG11 0HH

Features

Set among the industrial landscape of Barking Riverside and once a dumping area for pulverised fuel ash, the reserve is a fascinating example of how nature can reclaim industrial wasteland.

The dumping of fuel ash has created a soil that is very alkaline and therefore different to most soils in London (they are mostly acidic).

This means that many plant species that can tolerate the soils of The Ripple struggle to grow elsewhere locally.

Pyramidal and southern marsh orchids, grey club rush and wild basil are the most important of these.

The areas of meadow and scrub provide a suitable habitat for invertebrates that are considered to be on the edge of extinction.

The number of rabbits and flocks of goldfinches in the reserve are notable.

Accessibility

For information about accessibility, visit AccessAble.

AccessAble - Ripple Nature Reserve

Scrattons Farm Eco-Park

The eco park is an oasis where flora and fauna can flourish and local residents can go to relax and enjoy.

Location

Shaw Avenue, Barking IG11 0UG

Features

Grass and wildflowers are thriving and fish have returned to the dredged drainage ditches, which will also provide a haven for waterside plants, frogs and toads.

A diverse range of habitats has been created to encourage all kinds of wildlife and the park is managed to sustain these all year round.

Accessibility

For information about accessibility, visit AccessAble.

AccessAble - Scrattons Farm Eco-Park

St Peter and St Paul’s Churchyard

St Peter and St Paul’s Churchyard is a unique green space within the borough. The Churchyard won a Green Flag Award in 2003.

The Churchyard, only a couple acres in size (8093.7 square metres), was closed to new burials in the 1990s, since when it has been managed as a nature reserve. 

Location

Church Lane, Dagenham RM10 9UL

Features

The area surrounding the church is maintained very much as gardens where nature can thrive but the emphasis is on formality. Further away from the church the gardens give way to an area of meadow where gravestones are found resting amongst spring and summer flowers.

The long grass, bramble and trees provide the obvious habitats. The old walls and headstones are valuable for lichens and mosses and are not common in the borough.

The main importance of the churchyard is for invertebrates. In summer you can find the long grass full of butterflies and crickets and there are lots of flying insects. These insects provide food for bats.

For most recent years a kestrel has nested on the church tower. Woodpeckers regularly feed on the avenue of lime trees.

A family of foxes live in the churchyard and can often be seen in the early morning and late evening.

Accessibility

The churchyard is accessible by wheelchair.

Looking after our nature reserves

Get involved

There are lots of ways that you can get involved in looking after our nature reserves.

Volunteer

If you would like to join in and help manage green spaces in the borough contact our volunteer team.

Park Watch Scheme

Park Watch is very similar to a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

You can help to:

  • protect Barking Park from crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB)
  • improve safety
  • make our parks cleaner and more welcoming community green spaces

Council byelaws

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, like other councils, has wide powers to make bylaws in relation to a range of areas under its control. Generally, byelaws seek to uphold good order, government and public health.

Byelaws for parks and open spaces are made by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham under section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875, section 15 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 and/or sections 12 and 15 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 and Section 41 of the Countryside Act 1968.

Any person offending against the byelaws is liable to conviction and a fine not exceeding level 2 (Maximum £500) on the standard scale.

LBBD byelaws - Pleasure grounds, public walks and open spaces (PDF, 47 KB)

LBBD byelaws - Country parks and picnic sites (PDF, 75 KB)

The Countryside Code

When visiting the Dagenham Corridor please follow The Countryside Code:

  • be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs
  • leave gates and property as you find them
  • protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • keep dogs under close control
  • consider other people

Dog Walking

The Dagenham corridor is a great place for dogs, and responsible dog ownership is encouraged.

To ensure your dog is safe during your visit we ask that dogs are kept under close control at all times, or they are kept on a lead if they are likely to stray.

Please be aware that not all park users are comfortable with dogs.

Free dog-waste bags are provided at Eastbrookend Discovery Centre to help you clean up after your dog and keep the site clean and healthy for everyone to enjoy.

From time to time there may be a need for dogs to be on a lead in certain areas due to nesting birds, grazing horses or site works, so please follow any notices displayed.

Ranger Service

Eastbrookend Discovery Centre, The Chase, Dagenham Road, Dagenham RM7 0SS

020 8227 2332

rangers@lbbd.gov.uk