One nature reserve, a wide variety of habitats

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A sycamore in Coppetts Wood.

The area is a haven for local wildlife, walkers and enironmentalists alike. A rich variety of plants grow on the scrublands – a legacy of the disused sewerage works.

Coppetts Wood is dominated by oak standards, but hornbeam hazel, sweet chestnut and horse chestnut are also present. The ponds on the site make an attractive habitat for breeding frogs and the wood attacts resident birs and mammals such as owls, finches, woodpeckers, thrushes, foxes, voles and shrews. Stretching for a green mile from Colney Hatch Lane N11 to the North Finchley Lido, this Local Nature Reserve sits in serene contrast to the North Circular thundering along its southern border.

Boasting some very different habitats, the nature reserve has five distinct sections:

  • Coppetts Wood
  • The Scrublands
  • Coppetts Close Triangle
  • The Green Link
  • The Glebelands

Coppetts Wood, Scrublands and Coppetts Close Triangle

Accessible from:

  • Colney Hatch Lane
  • The footbridge over the North Circular Road by Coppetts Close estate
  • The Compton Leisure Centre playing fields.

The western end of the reserve is Ancient Woodland, and is where our popular annual Woodland Festival is held each May.

Wildlife habitats include:

  • Dry Grassland with herbs and ant hills;
  • Scrub with a huge variety of plants (herbs, shrubs, trees) – as a hugely important feeding and breeding ground for insects – butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, etc). Snails that are eaten by frogs, lizards, birds and small field voles – in turn eaten by foxes, owls, Kestrels and Sparrow-hawks. We also have damp scrubland favoured by mosses, ferns and fungi
    Woodland with insects, birds and bats – in the leaf canopy a hundred feet up into the sky
  • There is also some wetland in the form of ponds and marshy ground. These are home to marsh plants, insects and crustacea that live in the water and are eaten by tadpoles and newts.

What a fantastic range of habitats – home to a huge number of wildlife More …

The Green Link

Recently reclaimed from being a refuse site, the Green Link is on the western side of Coppetts Wood, and between the Compton Leisure Centre playing fields and the recycling centre.

Its at its best in high summer, with an extraordinary density of flowering shrubs, alive with beetles, butterflies and small mammals.

The Glebelands

Immediately west of the Green link is the Glebelands. This area of land is between Summers Lane and the North Circular Road. The northern and central parts of the Glebelands are a sports field, two allotment sites and the Royal British Legion. The land to the south of the asphalt footpath is the Glebelands Local Nature Reserve and borders the North Circular Road.

This has the following habitats:

  • Former Allotments on damp to wet ground, supporting grassland, brambles and Giant
  • Horsetail, plus a number of allotment relics such as currant bushes, grape vines, plum trees and Fennel. Here anhills and foxes abound.
  • A meadow of Scrub – bushes, grass and herbs.
  • A number of hollows – water-filled permanent ponds, temporary ponds and damp hollows.
  • Ancient Woodland

The Glebelands Local Nature Reserve has plants, insects and animals that have not been recorded anywhere else in the Borough of Barnet – or indeed anywhere else in London north of the river Thames.

Coppetts Wood was once part of a vast woodland known as Finchley Wood. By 1504, this woodland had strunk in size and become known as a common. The 17th and 18th centureis saw Finchley Common used for such diverse pursuits as bare-knuckle boxing, horse racing and pigeon shooting. It also had a reputation as the haunt of highwaymen at this time.

After the area had suffered an outbreak of typhoid in 1872, both Coppetts Wood and Scrublands saw the installation of a sewerage works. After a period of private ownership, the wood was puchased by the Council in 1900.

During the Second World War, the wood was used by the military and several tank traps, a bomb crater and remains of buildings used to test gas masks. More …

The sewage works were closed in 1963 and the sludge digester demolished in 1988.
The area is now a haven for local wildlife, walkers and environmentalists alike. A rich variety of plants now grow on the Scrublands – a legacy of the disused sewerage works.

The area was designated a Local Nature Reserve by the London Borough of Barnet in 1997, giving it greater protection and visitors better opportunities to explore this magnificent relic of the countryside of Finchley.