Friends of Tiptree Heath

The Heath

Tiptree Heath is 61 acres (24.57 hectares) of registered common land - it was named as a public common in the 1100s, deregulated during World War II and reregistered in November 1947.
The site boasts many features including 8 different species of heathland flowers, two ponds, small areas of woodland and open spaces. It produces a different range of heathers - the crossleaved as well as the bell and the ling - which all grow together. Without management of the area - by scrub clearance, tree felling and mowing - the heathland would slowly disappear and be replaced by poor quality woodland.

It is the largest surviving fragment of heathland in the County of Essex and supports a number of plants rare in Essex.
The Heath is an SSSI - a Site of Special Scientific Interest- under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. In summer the open heathland produces purple swathes of heather growing through other plants and shrubs.

During the last century it was the haunt of vagrants, footpads and ne'er do wells. It was also (allegedly) where contraband goods were hidden away!

See here for more on the history of Tiptree Heath.

Dotted around the Heath, there are a sculptures and tree carvings, created by Jeff Higley and his team.


The Heath Areas

Tiptree Heath has the shape of a lady’s boot when studied on a map. For the purposes of identification of different areas, parts of the boot are referred to below.

Wet Heathland
At the top and middle of the heel of the boot is the "wet heath", so called because it is usually damp. It is host to large areas of cross-leaved heath and in recent years we have seen a wide strip of similar characteristics spreading across towards the western end of the Heath.

Keyes Triangle
A grassland and bracken area with gorse and some hawthorn, blackthorn and oak near the north west of the heath at the toe of the boot. With most conservation efforts directed to the rest of the site, this area is largely impassable due to its dense scrub.

Secondary Woodland
There are 5 areas of secondary woodland, the largest one being at the far west of the site round the Race-around Pond. This woodland has a non-intervention management policy with only dangerous trees and branches removed. During the October 1987 storms this area was severely damaged. The other areas are being thinned out to create wood pasture which will provide more fruitful resources for the wildlife of the Heath.

More on the Pond, its history and current work can be found here.

Open Space
The largest open area is a combination of acid grassland and dry heath and dense gorse scrub.

Central Area
This is bisected by Stone Street Stream (fed by Birkin's Pond and one or two springs), which runs out of the Heath and joins the Layer Brook across Wilkin land, through Layer Marney and finally into Abberton Reservoir. Mature birch woodland with bracken covers much of the central area, and a few older trees rot and fall during most winters.

Heather Area
Covering much of the eastern side of the Heath and includes the "football pitch". Both dry and wet heaths are found here, alongside scrub and secondary woodland. A programme of felling of secondary woodland, weed-wiping and soil scraping has helped to establish heather re-growth.

Woodland
Covering much of the eastern side of the Heath and includes the "football pitch". Both dry and wet heaths are found here, alongside scrub and secondary woodland. A programme of felling of secondary woodland, weed-wiping and soil scraping has helped to establish heather re-growth.


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