Hutton Country Park
Wash Road, Hutton
Hutton Country Park has been owned by Brentwood Borough Council since 1997. It is a Local Nature Reserve, supporting a vast array of native flora and fauna and is thus managed as an area of conservation value in what is otherwise an area of vast intensive arable land and urban expansion. The park covers 36 hectares, containing a large area of natural grassland, an area of ancient woodland, ponds, wetland and the River Wid, which forms the northerly border. The railway line dissects the park forming separate north and south sectors, of which the northern section is grazed by cattle between April and October.
Responsible enjoyment of the site by the public is valued and encouraged as it is ideal for pleasant strolls, nature watching and dog walking. For anyone wishing to visit the site, pedestrian access to the park may be gained from Sunray Avenue and Goodwood Avenue. Access can also be gained from Wash Road where there is a small car park.
History - In the 1970's the land belonged to part of a farm, when the fields were used for grazing for sheep and bullocks. The layout of the fields still remains predominantly the same as it was during this time. However the site has been put under threat of development several times. During the 1970's and 1980's there were plans to develop the site for housing and commercial units and to create a link road across the fields. Following this, the development company Tarmac purchased the site, with the view for possible development, however the site remain unchanged.
The site as it is now - Brentwood Borough Council have improved many aspects of the park including planting hedgerows, re-introducing cattle grazing, providing better access and maintaining the ditch systems.
Grassland - The majority of the park is covered in semi-natural species rich grassland on neutral soil. It was created through human activity and is maintained by cutting or grazing in order to sustain the diversity of plants, animals and insects.
Woodland - The area of woodland is situated to the east of the park. It comprises of ancient semi-natural woodland, containing mainly oak and hornbeam through which a single path runs. The woodland is split into two sectors; a council-owned sector, known as Collins Shaw and a privately-owned sector. Visitors are invited to walk through the privately-owned area however it should be noted that the route may be closed by the landowner is wished. If you visit the woodland between April and May you will be treated to a stunning display of bluebells covering the woodland floor.
Ponds and wetlands - There are four ponds in the park; three in the grassland fields and one in the woodland. The main pond is near the Wash Road entrance and is found by following the right hand fork of the path at the main entrance. The ponds are extremely valuable for conservation reasons and often support rare species, especially the wetland pond, which has developed a specialist ecosystem. The boardwalk to the east of the pond allows easy access over the wetland, which is important for birds and insects. Kingfishers are regularly seen on the banks of the River Wid.
Paths and access - There are paths running throughout the site, one of which is a public right of way, which runs from Wash Road to Goodwood Avenue. Surfaces on paths are generally fairly flat and hard subject to weather conditions. There are also surfaced paths near the Wash Road entrance which is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, and a boardwalk is in place over the wetland. Benches are in place at regular intervals. The is a car park at the site which has open access 24/7.
If you visit the park you may see some of the following:
- Birds - Kingfishers, Moor Hen, Barn Owl, Green Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit.
- Arachnids - Spiders
- Dragonflies and Damselflies - Emperor Dragonfly, Large Red Damselfly.
- Butterflies - Purple Hairstreak, Orange Tip.
- Other Insects - Grasshoppers and Bush- Crickets
- Flowers - Creeping Thistle, Meadow Buttercup, White Clover, Lesser Stitchwort, Ox-eye Daisy.
- Grasses - Meadow Foxtail, Tufted Hair-grass.
Please follow the link for information on the Brentwood Countryside Management Volunteers who carry out practical improvements to the site.