Nature-ist: Stave Hill & Russia Dock Woodland

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 102 months ago
Nature-ist: Stave Hill & Russia Dock Woodland
Pond in the "downtown" area of Russia Docks, part of a vigorous protection campaign
Pond in the "downtown" area of Russia Docks, part of a vigorous protection campaign
Remnants of the park's industrial past
Remnants of the park's industrial past
The way they were: Michael Rizzello's bronze cast of the old docks atop Stave Hill
The way they were: Michael Rizzello's bronze cast of the old docks atop Stave Hill
Stave Hill and steps to the summit
Stave Hill and steps to the summit
Pond with attendant heron
Pond with attendant heron
View of Ecological Park and Canary Wharf from Stave Hill
View of Ecological Park and Canary Wharf from Stave Hill

What is it? The former Surrey Commercial Docks were filled in and and planted as a woodland during the Eighties, with the artificial Stave Hill built from waste material and rubble. The area is now a popular woodland spot and ecology park, replete with nature's finery and remnants of the apparatus from a bygone trading age.

Where is it? In Rotherhithe, tucked alongside the rump of the Thames as it curves around the Isle of Dogs. A short walk from Canada Water station on the Jubilee line (and from 2010, the East London line). The station also welcomes plenty of buses — we are south of the river, after all — and Thames Clippers stop at nearby Greenland Dock pier.

Why has it tickled our fancy? Though perhaps well known to south Londoners, a straw poll revealed that barely anyone from the other side of the river knows anything about it — a crying shame, as it's the perfect answer to those hoighty-toighty Hampsteadites who claim that north London has all the capital's green spots. Great for family outings, courting couples, lazy picnics and happy summer wanderings.

Nature notes: On a spring day's saunter through the woodland we descried dog roses, ducks, reeds and weeds, long grasses, hawthorn, wetlands, a heron, baby moor-hens and more. In a windless patch we even spotted two butterflies cavorting together, displaying a very un-Lepidoptera level of aerial agility. An excellent blog about Russia Dock mentions baby hedgehogs and Great Crested Grebe chicks.

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Last Updated 28 May 2009

Stephen Chapman

Well worth a visit - the countryside in the middle of a housing estate!  Take a trip to the Blacksmiths Arms for a great Thai meal as well (it's next to the Hilton) and is only 5 minutes from the nature reserve.