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Thorley Wash

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) just south of Bishop's Stortford, noted for its botanical diversity.

A reserve filled with birdsong south of Bishop's Stortford.  One of a string of wetlands flanking the Stort Navigation. Thorley Wash was formerly known as Thorley Flood Pound: it used to act as flood storage for the Stort Navigation. It was decommissioned in 2004 and the site has been restored to a more natural state.


Thorley Wash was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1986 for its botanical interest associated with tall wash grassland habitat. Wildflowers present include ragged robin, marsh marigold, fen bedstraw and meadowsweet. There are also records for early and southern marsh orchids.


Surveys have confirmed the presence of a Red Data Book species, Desmoulin’s whorl snail. This is a tiny snail that measures less than 3mm! They are most visible during the warmer months, however their size makes them difficult to spot.


The wet habitats are good for a diverse range of wildlife including dragonflies, damselflies, birds and bats. Areas of long vegetation provide shelter for small mammals and reptiles.


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Download Thorley Wash leaflet


Nearby nature reserves

Sawbridgeworth Marsh Nature Reserve
1 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Rushy Mead Nature Reserve
1 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Patmore Heath
6 miles - Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Spellbrook, nr Bishop's Stortford
Bishop's Stortford
CM22 7SE
Map reference
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
Apr - Jun
Jul - Sep
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13.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Access via towpath and footbridge over Stort Navigation. Unsurfaced, uneven paths and steep slopes.
Walking information
From the Stort Navigation towpath head north from Spellbrook Lane East and cross the canal using the footbridge to continue along the towpath. Look for the Wildlife Trust sign which marks the reserve entrance. It is approximately ½ mile from Spellbrook Lock to the reserve entrance. Stort Navigation towpath follows the station to station riverside trail (Sawbridgeworth to Bishop's Stortford).
Head south on A1184 from Bishop's Stortford. At Spellbrook turn left into Spellbrook Lane East, go over level crossing. Park in layby on right. Continue on foot, turning left off the road onto the towpath. There is also parking at the nearby Three Horseshoes pub car park (on Spellbrook Lane East).
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01727 858901