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The Withey Beds

The Withey Beds Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is one of the few remaining wetlands in Hertfordshire.

The Withey Beds offers a variety of habitats and supports some fascinating plants and animals, particularly birds and insects which are characteristic of swamp and fen.

Both of these facts help to make The Withey Beds a distinctive and valuable natural resource. The diversity of habitats includes 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.

Why is The Withey Beds called The Withey Beds?

‘Withey beds’ 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 are still managed using traditional techniques. The rotational coppicing of willow preserves 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.

Important insects at The Withey Beds

Four invertebrates which are of a high national importance have all been found at The Withey Beds Local Nature Reserve. These are the oak jewel beetle, a soldier fly, a solitary bee and Roesel’s bush cricket.

To get to the Withey Beds Local Nature Reserve (LNR) take the tube to the Moor Park tube station.  For information on the regular buses contact the Traveline on 0870 6082608. You can download the Withey Beds location map or find information on other Three Rivers’ Local Nature Reserves from the Three Rivers main website.