Roding Valley Nature Reserve was planted as woodland in the 1980s. The mix of trees includes dozens of seedling apple, pear and cherry plum trees, along with oak, hawthorn and willow. Although not planted as an ‘orchard’, many of the trees produce delicious fruit. (There is also a young orchard on the east side of the River Roding that was planted by Vision Redbridge.)
Where can I find it? Wanstead, Redbridge, east London. The nature reserve is open to the public and covers an extensive area either side of the River Roding and the North Circular motorway. Many of the fruit trees are near the entrance on Elmcroft Avenue, others are near the entrance on Onslow Gardens. Nearest underground stations are Wanstead, Snaresbrook and South Woodford. (The young orchard is near Roding Lane South and Whitney Avenue – nearest underground Redbridge.)
Can I visit? Yes it is public land
What is there? There are around 50 fruit trees, mostly apples – they are seedlings so are not named varieties. One may be a seedling from a Golden Delicious.
History: The site would originally have been farmland. From the 1900s part of it was used as a dump, possibly including clinker from Beckton gas works. Locals say there was a big fire there in the mid 1970’s which destroyed many of the existing trees although some may have survived. The current woodland was planted as mitigation for the A12 North Circular, which was built in the 1980s. The younger orchard was planted by Vision Redbridge and Trees for Cities in 2015.
Biodiversity: Being a native woodland it is home to a wide range of wildlife. There is an open area which has a wonderful mix of butterflies and moths in the summer including Speckled Wood, Common Blue and Jersey Tiger. Dragonflies include Banded Demoiselle, Brown Hawkers, Ruddy Darter and Broad Bodied Chaser.
Community: This is one of the sites that Redbridge Conservation Volunteers manage on a Thursday. Other users include Roding Farm Allotments and Redbridge Allotments, Wanstead Church School, Wanstead Youth Centre, and Essex Wildlife Trust.
Working Together: TOP worked with Redbridge Conservation Volunteers and other local people in 2018-2019. Together we numbered and mapped the fruit trees, cleared scrub from around them and pruned them. We ran two public walks through the orchard and along River Roding, and harvested the fruit to make cider. We also ran an outdoor class for Years 3 and 4 of Wanstead Church School, and a “top working” workshop where we grafted new varieties on to some of the apple trees.