THIS summer get outside and make the most of Essex’s top country parks. From the new Stick Man trail at Weald Country Park to beachcombing at Cudmore Grove in east Mersea, there’s so much to see and do.
An Essex Country Parks spokesperson said: “Essex is blessed with such diverse landscapes, the county’s country parks are a fantastic place to get close to nature, have fun in the great outdoors, create adventures and make memories. We’d like to challenge the people of Essex to explore somewhere new and do something different and make the most of what’s on their doorstep.”
The top 10 things to see and do this summer
Enjoy new Stick Man Trail at Weald Country Park
Meet Stick Man, squirrel, swan, rabbit and frog as you explore the newly opened official Stick Man sculpture trail, based on the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and licensed by Magic Light Pictures at Weald Country Park near Brentwood. The country park also boasts 520 acres of woodland, lakes, hay and wildflower meadows as well as a fallow deer park.
Beachcombing at Cudmore Grove
Head over to Mersea Island and enjoy a relaxing beachcombing stroll along the coastline. Cudmore Grove Country Park on east Mersea is situated on the Colne and Blackwater estuaries and its seashore is a great place to discover oyster shells and pretty pebbles. Why not make a work of art on the sand? Remember to keep away from the cliffs and check the tides. The country park also offers a large children’s adventure play area, bird hide and acres of space to walk, run and paddle.
Get on your bikes at Hadleigh Country Park
Famed for being home to the London 2012 mountain biking track, Hadleigh Country Park offers cycling routes for everyone. There’s multi-purpose family trails and a fun pump track too! From your bike, view the iconic Hadleigh Castle on top of the hill and take in stunning views of the Thames estuary. Bring a picnic and sit back and enjoy the rolling open landscapes.
Hang out at Sky Ropes
Great Notley Country Park near Braintree is home to Sky Ropes, a two-level family friendly high ropes course. If you want an adrenalin-filled day out book a 75-minute adventure where you can climb and explore over bridges and beams high in the sky. Prices start from just £13 per person.
Thorndon Country Park Gruffalo trail
If you go down to the woods today you may just find a Gruffalo! Thorndon Country Park near Brentwood is where you’ll find creatures from another Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler classic, ‘The Gruffalo’, also licensed by Magic Light Pictures. It’s a great place to share the wonder of woodlands as well as get little ones to love reading. Why not share ‘The Gruffalo’ book whilst sitting under a tree for a fun storytelling experience?
Dog agility at Belhus Woods
Your four-legged friend will love a day out at Belhus Woods Country Park near South Ockenden. Not only does it offer over 300 acres of ancient woodland, lakes, meadows, and musical themed children’s play to explore, there’s also a dog agility course!
Den making in Danbury
Let your children go wild and go den building in the woods at Danbury Country Park, near Chelmsford. Pack a picnic and enjoy a perfect day out where you can finesse your den-making skills. Also check out the Family Forest School that runs on Saturdays during term time, and Wild Wednesday’s that offer family fun from 11am to 2pm throughout August.
Enjoy birdwatching at Marsh Farm Country Park
Set beside the river Crouch, near South Woodham Ferrers, lies over 300 acres of stunning marshland walks at Marsh Farm Country Park. The habitat is a haven for wetland birds and other wildlife, so pack your binoculars and count how many species you can find!
Play trail at Great Notley Country Park
Everyone wants to have fun this summer, so head over to Great Notley Country Park’s 1.2km play trail which is ideal for children and adults alike! Step onto the giant seesaw, take on the rope climbs, zoom down the zipwire and have fun in the sand play area.
Join a parkrun!
Take part in a 5km park run at a country park! Parkruns are a great way to keep the whole family fit, so why not take on the challenge of running a different route each week? Runs take place at Marsh Farm, Great Notley, Cudmore Grove, Hadleigh and Weald Country Parks every Saturday from 8.45am, entry is free.
To discover more about Explore Essex’s country parks, visit www.explore-essex.com. Entry to all country parks is free, although car parking charges apply.
An Explorer Pass provides free parking at all Explore Essex country parks and discounts at many cafés, costing just £85 per year.
If you buy your pass by 31 July 2023, you’ll get 13 months of free parking for the price of 12, enabling two summers worth of fun with just one Explorer Pass!