Medway Valley Heritage Forest is one of the three ESA’s (Environmentally Significant Areas) located in north London, Ontario. Access to the park is allowed from 6 am to 10 pm year round.
There are paved areas that are easily accessible for families from stroller to wheelchair and everything in between. The paved entry way is just to the east of Sunningdale Golf Course on Sunningdale Road. The paved pathway will take you over the Medway Creek and through the Valley where you will find both noises and sights to engage and delight. If you’re quiet, you might be able to see the deer poking through the woods and there are muskrats and beavers in the creek. Listen and you will hear many different species of birds singing from all directions, and if you go at closer to sunset you will be serenaded by the the frogs!
The Medway Valley provides habitat and food for many species of wildlife, especially birds. Mallard ducks and Belted Kingfisher are common year round while the Great Blue Heron and Wood Duck are popular regular summer visitors. The valley is used as a migration route by many birds, ranging in size from warblers to Osprey. Even Scarlet Tanagers are often seen. The high 25 meter banks serve as nesting sites for colonies of Bank Swallows.
For the fishing enthuiasts, 43 species of fish have been found in the creeks clear waters but most commonly seen are minnows, shiners and carp.
White-tailed Deer, Grey Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Eastern Cottontail, Raccoon, shrews, mice and moles are common in the ESA. The rarely seen Southern Flying Squirrel has also been recorded.
Take note that the paved path ends just before a second serene bridge and the beginning of a wood-chipped trail that turns into a wide dirt path before a third bridge. This section of the trail is fairly easy for children to navigate on their own. Past that point, the trail gets pretty narrow and steep through the woods, around to another section that ends close to the beginning of the trail through to Fanshawe Park Road and across to the south section of Medway Valley. Bicycles are permitted only on the asphalt or crushed gravel paths in Kilally Meadows and Medway Valley Heritage Forest. Bicycles are NOT permitted in any other area.
The rest of the ESA is not paved and is south of Fanshawe Park Road with many access points throughout. The area is rich with the history of the Attawandaron people and the early European settlers. Over 500 years ago, there was a Neutral (Attawandaron) village at the site of the London Museum of Archaeology. Untouched during European settlement, much of the valley was logged and farmed over the last century. Farming continued as recently as 1945. The remains of a mill dam can be seen about half a kilometre west of Western Road.