Thorley Wash Nature Reserve

Thorley Wash Nature Reserve © Jenny Sherwen

A reserve filled with birdsong south of Bishop’s Stortford, and one of a string of wetlands flanking the Stort Navigation.


Spellbrook, nr Bishop's Stortford
Bishop's Stortford
CM22 7SE

OS Map Reference

A static map of Thorley Wash

Know before you go

13 hectares

Walking trails

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).


Access via towpath and footbridge over Stort Navigation. Unsurfaced, uneven paths and steep slopes.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open all the time

Best time to visit

April to June, July to September

About the reserve

Thorley Wash was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1986 for its botanical interest associated with tall wash grassland habitat. Wildflowers present include ragged-robin, marsh marigold, fen bedstraw and meadowsweet. Water voles are flourishing here thanks to a successful reintroduction programme by the Trust in 2015. The wet habitats are great for a diverse range of wildlife including dragonflies, damselflies, birds and bats. Areas of long vegetation provide shelter for small mammals and reptiles.

Seasonal Highlights
 Cuckoo, ragged robin, water vole, whitethroat.
Summer: Banded demoiselle, garden warbler, sedge warbler.
Autumn / Winter: Barn owl, snipe.

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)


Site entrance: The reserve entrance is off of the Stort Navigation towpath. From Spellbrook Lane East, walk north along towpath and in 0.5 miles cross the white footbridge into the reserve.

Access by road: Head south on A1184 from Bishop’s Stortford. At Spellbrook turn left into Spellbrook Lane East, parking at pub on right hand side. Access to reserve over level crossing.

Access by public transport
508, 509, 510 – Spellbrook Lane (0.7 miles).
Rail: Sawbridgeworth station (2 miles).

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