Sydenham Cottages is a small nature reserve running alongside the river Quaggy and once formed part of a water meadows system. Much of the site lies in a former oxbow lake where a meander of the river became cut off to form a crescent shaped lake which gradually silted up.
There is little trace of the wetland remaining on the site and the river flows through a concrete channel, which formed part of the flood alleviation scheme following the 1968 floods.
The land was then used for allotments but these were eventually abandoned and the land went back to semi-natural grassland and developing scrub. Sydenham Cottages, which give the site its name, are located off Marvels Lane. The cottages are over 150 years old and you pass them on the way to the reserve.
This site is mainly covered in woodland of pedunculate oak and ash. There is a sizeable meadow, dominated by false oat-grass with interspersed tall herbs, particularly hogweed and cow parsley. An old hedge is made up of hawthorn, including hybrids between the common hawthorn and Midland hawthorn, and a little blackthorn. Several mature oak and field maple emerge from the hedge. The site attracts a number of birds familiar to parks and gardens and is home to a variety of insects including Roesel's bush-cricket.
You can access the site all year round.