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Bedfords Park

Sprawling fields with woods, sizable deer and cheap coffee. That's Bedfords Park for you.

If you are familiar with Stapleford Airfield then you will know the small town of Havering, a relaxed, friendly, and startlingly nicer place than Grays you can't help but notice. But it's without question worth getting to know their own wooded area as both a brief and close getaway.

Bedfords Park is a 215 acre nature reserve first owned and maintained by Earl John Bedford back in 1362, its history is a complicated but actually uninteresting one as it was confiscated by the king and passed around by various feuding Nobel's but ultimately it never stopped being a nature reserve for the ruling classes to prance though feeling rather regal. It was eventually purchased by Romford Council in 1933 and turned over to the people, not as common land but as a nature reserve that it remains today. Consequently it is managed very carefully so that it holds many species of foreign tree and of course home to some 20 plus deer who are all kept in their own enclosure and clearly have quite the life. But the combination of these factors help make it one of the standout places to visit in terms of park life. There is even a park museum (to be reported on next time).
As you arrive you are greeted by a succession of cleverly crafted wooded sculptures mirroring the wildlife there within. As you make your way along the path some hundred yards from the car park you are greeted by the deer park itself, large and very popular with the children, and then the visitors centre is opposite that dispenses very affordable coffee and offering a nicely uncluttered seated areas. From here you are afforded one of the great views of London and Essex as the sweeping vista shows you all from Dagenham to Barking to Cannery wharf and Docklands and then the City far off in the smoggy distance.
The park is well maintained and agreeable and clearly the go to place for local families but is so vast it never feels cluttered as Epping Forest seems to manage to do so often. It's not on a grand forest scale but very manageable and cultivated for strolling rather than trekking. It's less than 30 mins drive from Grays and is recommended as a great little afternoon get away.

Postcode: RM4 1QH

Another place that's great to experience deers woundering around but with having a sizable fence between you and them is Knole.

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