A little-known Lee Valley site with lots to offer
STANSTEAD INNINGS IS an approximately 50-hectare site on the eastern edge of Hertfordshire and very close to the Essex border. It is situated alongside the hugely popular Rye Meads RSPB reserve, and is therefore largely overlooked by visitors, but it has plenty of avian interest in itself. Now part of the Lee Valley Country Park, the former gravel pits here have been flooded. Stanstead Innings encompasses three wild flower meadows, a wet woodland area and three lakes. Despite the A414 bypass intrusion, and the nearby Rye Meads Treatment Works, the site entices many wintering wildfowl and migrant birds. Of the three lakes, Abbotts Lake is the largest, of which the northern end is devoted to sailing activities, but the southern side has been safeguarded as a refuge area for wildlife, bar the occasional fisherman, of course. As Stanstead Innings is adjacent to Rye Meads, the chances of seeing the elusive Kingfisher out fishing are quite high. The location is fairly peaceful, save the occasional dog walker, and you’re highly likely to have use of any of the three bird hides to yourself. Also, running alongside the site is the River Lee, which runs from Luton to the River Thames. This river attracts many waterbirds such as Great Crested and Little Grebe, Tufted Duck (pictured above) and many Canada Geese.