Colne Local Nature Reserve

The Colne LNR lies on the north side of the river Colne on rising ground between Essex University and Wivenhoe.


  • How to get there
  • Opening times
  • Facilities and access
  • History, vegetation and wildlife

The Colne LNR lies on the north side of the river Colne on rising ground between Essex University and Wivenhoe. A 85 acre reserve consisting of 3 main areas. Wivenhoe Woods is a mixed coppice and secondary woodland. Ferry Marsh is a former grazing marsh and Lower Lodge Farm is mainly scrub and grassland.

Colne site information (PDF, 3.37MB)

How to get there

By road: 4 miles south east of Colchester. There is a car park at the end of Rosabelle Avenue. Postcode: CO7 9GW. Find on the map.

By cycle: Access is from the Wivenhoe Trail at 2 points, from the car park at Rosabelle Avenue and from a number of entrances around the reserve.

Opening times

All day, every day. 

Facilities and access

  • Car park
  • Path network including bridges and boardwalk
  • Amenity grass area.
  • Access to the Wivenhoe Trail
  • Interpretation panels
  • Picnic area
  • The site offers stunning views of the river Colne and the surrounding countryside.
  • Forest school outdoor classroom (bookable)
  • Occasional guided walks and children's activities

History, vegetation and wildlife

Wivenhoe Woods covers the largest area of the reserve and is found at the central and southern end. The main woodland tree species are Sweet Chestnut although there are a total of 16 tree species on the site including Oak, Field Maple and a number of small Elms.

The Woodland is managed by rotational coppicing. Coppicing is a traditional way of managing trees. Trees are cut down to ground level to create stools. The tree then puts its energy into creating vigorous re-growth. Coppicing creates an ever changing local environment and range of habitats which increases the number of species a woodland supports.

Spring is a good time to visit the woods when the woodland floor is a carpet of woodland flowers. Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Yellow Archangel, Greater stitchwort and Common Dog Violets are just a few of the spectacle that is on display.

Lower Lodge is a grassland to the north of the reserve. It was farmed until the 1980's and became public open space when the adjacent housing estate was built. This part of the site is mainly managed as grassland with sections cut every 3 years to prevent scrub from encroaching. Paths are cut through the long grass for walkers and this part of the reserve offers the best views of the Colne valley.

Lower Lodge has been used as a receptor site for the Common Lizard which were translocated from land that was developed in Colchester. They can sometimes be seen sunning themselves on fence posts and tree trunks.

The eastern edge of Lower Lodge is bordered by a row of impressive Oaks which would have once formed part of an old hedgerow.

Ferry Marsh is a former grazing marsh that has a range of habitats. These include a brackish water ditch system with associated marsh and swamp habitats. The marsh supports a variety of birds, plants and aquatic invertebrates.

Otters have been known to use the site and there is a good water vole population in the ditch system. In 2010 the ditch system was extended to extend this valuable habitat.

Our work

The main work carried out on the site are as follows: Maintaining access and safety throughout the site. Coppicing the woodland, controlling sycamore and providing dead wood habitat in Wivenhoe Woods. Stopping scrub from encroaching and cutting and clearing grass on Lower Lodge Farm. Maintaining ditches, controlling scrub and coppicing Blackthorn on Ferry Marsh. 

Colne Local Nature Reserve action plan of works 2022-23

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