As the leaves begin to turn brown and the weather becomes cooler, what better on a September Sunday than a long walk in a country park. Here in Essex we are fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and we are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to well maintained, easily accessible country parks and rivers.
At Funtime Hire we spend a lot of time working outside, and often in the open countryside, so we think you should grab your coats and wellies and join us outside. We’ve compiled a short list of our favourite parks to visit this time of year.
Weald Country Park, South Weald, Brentwood
Located to the west of Brentwood, Weald Park offers nearly 500 acres of parkland and is the largest of the all the Essex County Council Country Parks. The park has been established for over 700 years and offers areas of open countryside, woodland and two idyllic lakes. Facilities at the park include fishing, a visitor centre selling refreshments, cycling, horse riding, family events and trails and fallow deer. Over the course of the year, there is a wide program of events that take place at South Weald, including medieval tournaments, music evenings, ranger led trail walks and educational walks and tours.
The park offers numerous car parking facilities and is easily accessible. Due to sheer size of Weald Park it very rarely feels overcrowded and you and your friends or family can enjoy long walks from either side of the park, passing through woodland and open fields. You can even stop to feed to enclosed deer on your way in or out of the visitors centre – an attraction that is very popular with the children.
The car parks are open all year round, although closing times vary according to season.
Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea, Basildon
Wat Tyler Country Park offers 125 acres of stunning parkland and is set the heart of the beautiful South Essex marshes. Set 2 miles east of the post-war town of Basildon, the park offers a tranquil space to be enjoyed by all the family.
The Wat Tyler Centre and Green Centre offer bright, inviting and flexible spaces that can be hired for private events.
The park has been declared an SSSI due to the wildlife present within the Hawthorn scrub, meadows and saltmarsh habitats. But the park also offers excellent days our for all ages. Attractions include a miniature railway, a visitor centre and cafe, birdwatching hides, an adventure playground for the children and of course, refreshment facilities.
Like many Essex Country parks, Wat Tyler places a huge emphasis on education. The Green Centre offers information about environmental issues facing the park and it’s wildlife, whilst The Laboratory centre runs a range of creative workshops, classes and projects for all ages.
Wat Tyler is easily accessible by road and offers a large parking area, and parking is free of charge!
Great Notley Country Park, Braintree
Great Notley Country Park covers some 100 acres of open space. The site was formerly arable farmland and has been transformed into a mixture of wetland and open grassland to be enjoyed by visitors to the park all year round.
The park offers facilities for cycle hire, cycling, fishing, football pitches, horse riding and guided walks. The Park is probably most well loved for its Discovery Centre which offers a fun day out for the younger members of the family.
With a play area, a cafe and other on site amenities, you and your family can enjoy time learning about environmental issues whilst seeing the wide variety of wildlife at the park. There is a also a large fishing lake and a hill climb to enjoy the view over the flatlands.
Parking is available on site for a nominal fee.
Hadleigh Country Park, Hadleigh, Southend
Overlooking the Thames Estuary, near Southend on Sea, Hadleigh Country Park offers unrivalled opportunities for countryside recreation and wildlife watching, as well as magnificent views over the estuary to Kent
Famous for its wildlife watching, Hadleigh also offers opportunities for cycling, horse riding, and long walks. Hadleigh is also unique in so far as it offers The Roundhouse, based on a floor plan from an archaeological excavation at Little Waltham, near Chelmsford and was funded by a grant from Veolia ES Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust
Hadleigh Country Park also played a vital role in the 2012 London Olympics and has left a legacy for cyclists everywhere. The London 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike event took place at Hadleigh Farm on 11 and 12 August, and cyclists come from all over the country to see the parts of the track that are located in the park.
Offering easy access by road or train, Hadleigh offers opportunities for birthday parties, as well as planned walks and talks on the Iron Age held within the Roundhouse.
Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood
This beautiful country park contains a diverse range of habitats and is an excellent spot to take in the Essex countryside. The Park is split into two very different areas.
Thorndon Country Park North
The woodlands of Thorndon North offer wonderful trails for long walks through the woodland. There is also a visitors centre with information and talks on the flora and fauna in the park, as well as year round planned activities such as The Gruffalo Trail for younger children. Childerditch Pond is also in the Northern side of the park and is both beautiful and tranquil.
Thorndon Country Park South
The open parkland at Thorndon South is a great spot for families enjoying barbecues and picnics, whilst enjoying views reaching out across countryside and into the heart of Canary Wharf. It’s a great place to fly a kite, go for a run or take your dogs for a good long walk. There is also a large cafe situated in the Southern side of the park.
Parking is available at either site for a nominal fee, and various events run throughout the year.
For more information about all of the locations and events Essex has to offer, go to www.visitessex.com
Funtime Hire supply the highest quality games and entertainments to events throughout Essex. Call us on 01371 811381 or click here to contact us by email.