Well, we moved to Roding Valley back in 1982 and thought we knew quite a lot about the area after all these years, but it took our son Paul, now living out in Myanmar, to ask us whether we had visited these lakes, a mere ten minutes’ drive from our home?
I duly checked their website - www.redbridgelakes.co.uk - and found out a great deal about the history and current facilities this amazing area has to offer.
In the words of their founder, “Pete the builder”:
From a 10 acre wasteland the project was originally to develop a conservation area with lakes as a place to chill out with a fishing rod. The site has exceeded all expectations and has now become a biodiverse, ecological park and an oasis for wildlife, where nature conservationists and those of like minds can come and bathe themselves in the natural environment.
Finding the lakes is initially a bit of a challenge as they are sited just behind a nursery and allotments along Redbridge Lane North but with a sat nav to hand and a sign to indicate a cafe and some lakes, you are directed down an unmade road called Salix Lane ( IG8 8LY) until you reach the site. Parking and admission is free.
Once there, you can start by watching enormous carp in an ornamental pond waiting for you to feed them, take a nature trail past a bug hotel, bee hives, a 'gnat west tower' for bats, and many other seasonal sights and sounds that feature in the lakeside setting as the Norfolk reeds sway in the reedbeds around you.
It is a relaxing, happy and friendly environment with a truly admirable ethos. Anyone of any age will enjoy it - and there is always a welcome cup of tea or coffee in the cafe afterwards!
There is even a carol concert by the lakes on 22 December between 6.00-8.00pm.
I highly recommend you take a look and, as an Eco Congregation, St James' URC will I'm sure be particularly interested.