The Withey Beds is a Local Nature Reserve located close to Rickmansworth and Moor Park, with its main entrance on Moor Lane (A4145). There is no dedicated parking for the reserve, but it is often possible to park on Moor Lane in the layby opposite the entrance. The Withey Beds reserve is a 15-20 minute walk from Moor Park tube station.
The Withey Beds are one of the few remaining wetlands in Hertfordshire, offering a variety of habitats and supporting some fascinating plants and animals including birds and insects characteristic of swamp and fen.
‘Withey bed’ is an old English term used to describe the growing of different species of willow for coppicing. They once formed an important part of the local village economy; supplying poles for basketwork, thatching, firewood and many other uses. The withey beds in Rickmansworth were traditionally coppiced to provide such products and this form of management resulted in the varied habitats becoming established.
Today, The Withey Beds is still managed using traditional techniques. The rotational coppicing of willow helps preserve the character of the site and grazing with cattle, or cutting and removing the vegetation within the field, will help halt encroaching scrub as well as preserve the character of this special site and allow wildlife to continue to flourish.
The diversity of habitats in The Withey Beds include wet woodland, mature standard trees, swamp, marsh, drier grassland, standing and fallen dead wood, open ditches, and the River Colne. It is this diversity which provides an ideal breeding ground for migratory birds and other species, including many rare insects.
As part of the management of the site, a number of bird boxes are set up around the site, including those for woodpeckers, tits, robins and barn owls. In addition, a hibernaculum for bats has been established, where they hibernate during the winter months; some may even use it as a summer roost.
Please contact the Friends of The Withey Beds if you would like to get more involved in this great open space.
Address: Sandy Lodge Road, WD3 1LP