Best Country Parks For The Family In Essex

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With lockdown measures being eased over the next month, it's about time to get ready to make the most of the great open spaces that the UK has to offer.

If you want playgrounds for your kids to run around in or maybe just a beautiful woodland walk, Essex has some beautiful country parks for you and your family to enjoy. So, start planning your return to fresh air, and have a look at this list of the best country parks Essex has to offer.

Remember to keep to government advice regarding travel, and try your best to enjoy the wonderful places our country has to offer whilst remaining sensible. Please bear in mind that all outdoor amenities are subject to different closures during lockdown, so do check before you visit!

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Great Notley Country Park

Great Notley Country Park is one of the best parks in Essex with plenty to do for the whole family. Whether your kids are adventurers at heart and want to have a go on the famous sky ropes, or if they'd rather stick to the ground and have a run around one of the play areas, there's plenty to keep them entertained. As well as offering sports fields where they can play a game of football, cycling trails for the more athletic visitors, and bird-watching or fishing for those who seek more a calm return to the outdoors.

Where is it? Braintree, Great Notley, Essex, England, CM77 7FS

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, the park and trails are buggy friendly

Where are the toilets? Toilets, including accessible and baby changing facilities, are located at the parks visitor centre

Parking: Pay & display parking available on site

Outdoor amenities: Sky ropes, kids play trail, walking trails, bird-watching, cycling trails, fishing, football pitches and games area, horse riding

Thorndon Country Park

Offering 500 acres of woodland, Thorndon Country Park is one of the best places to go for a walk. The famous Gruffalo trail is fun for the whole family, and with countless different habitats and migrant birds there is always something interesting to see. Or, head to Thorndon South and enjoy a picnic in the sunshine with stunning views of Canary Wharf.

Where is it? Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood, Warley, Essex, England, CM13 3RZ

Is it buggy friendly? Most trails are buggy friendly

Where are the toilets? At Thorndon North, the toilets are located behind the Countryside Centre. At Thorndon South, the toilets are located in the Octagon Pavilion. Both include disabled toilets and baby changing facilities

Parking: Pay & display parking is available on site

Outdoor amenities: The Gruffalo trail, pebble walk, orienteering courses, dog activity course, cycling trails, fishing, horse riding, bird-watching

Marsh Farm

With scenic walks and views of the River Crouch, Marsh Farm makes for the perfect family day out. Choose one of the many coastal or river walks, go wildlife spotting for their grass snakes, geese and water vole or take your bikes out of the shed and enjoy a cycle around the 300 acres.

Where is it? Marsh Farm Country Park, South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford, CM3 5YT

Is it buggy friendly? The paths are mostly bare earth and grass, so if your buggy can handle this then yes

Where are the toilets? Located at the Animal Adventure Park, adjacent to the visitors centre

Parking: There is free parking on site

Outdoor amenities: Walking trails, bird-watching and wildlife, cycling trails, fishing

Belhus Woods Country Park

Belhus Woods is one of the more unique country parks in Essex with a variety of different activities for the family. Spanning 300 acres, Belhus Woods Country Park offers multiple woodland areas, grassland, flower meadows for memorable family photos as well as fishing and conservation lakes. There are many places to walk, burn off some energy, or just sit and chill. If the kids are tired of walking, there's a play area with a music theme that they're guaranteed to enjoy. And if you want the experience to continue even after your perfect day out, they even offer an archery club.

Where is it? Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Aveley, Greater London, England, RM15 4XJ

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, the park and walking trails are accessible

Where are the toilets? Public toilets, including disabled and baby changing facilities, are located near the car park and visitor centre.

Parking: Pay & display parking available on site

Outdoor amenities: Musical themed play area, walking trails, cycling trails, bird watching, archery club, fishing, model boats

Cudmore Grove Country Park

If you'd rather head to the beach than the woodlands, Cudmore Grove is one of the perfect places for you and your family to explore. A nature reserve on Mersea Island, there are gorgeous views over the estuaries as well as sandy beaches, salt marsh, grassland and meadows with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. Send your kids off to one of the parks or play areas, or join them in one of the fossil hunting and beach combing activities that the nature park offers.

Where is it? Broman's Lane, East Mersea, Essex, CO5 8UE

Is it buggy friendly? Most paths should be accessible to buggies and wheelchairs

Where are the toilets? Toilets are located at the car park and next to the kiosk

Parking: Pay & display parking available on site

Outdoor amenities: Walking trails, wildlife and bird-watching, kids play area, cycling trails, horse riding, fossil hunting, beach combing

Danbury Country Park

Danbury Country Park is an award-winning park and garden set in the remains of Danbury Palace. These historical parks are great for walking and having picnics with the family. With historic lakes, ancient woodlands, wildflower meadows, pristine gardens and Victorian flower collection, this is one of the most gorgeous places to discover in Essex. Take a walk along one of the many well-maintained paths and explore all the different fascinating routes that Danbury has to offer. Whether you find yourself at the Ice House, walking around the medieval deer park, or having a rest by one of the three lakes, these parks will make your day out a perfect one.

Where is it? Danbury Country Park, Woodhill Road, Chelmsford, Danbury, Essex, England, CM3 4AW

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, and wheelchair accessible

Where are the toilets? There are public toilets, including disabled facilities, near the woods car park and at the lake

Parking: Pay & display parking available on site

Outdoor amenities: Forest school sessions for kids, walking trails, fishing

Weald Country Park

Find yourself swept up in nature with these beautiful 520 acres of parks and woodland. Weald Country Park is one of the biggest places on this list, making it perfect for post-lockdown social distancing walks upon it's reopening. With woodland, grassland, wildflower meadows, lakes, a deer park and loads of mesmerizing views this isn't a park that will let you down. Put on your walking shoes, bring a few coins along with you to feed the deer, and get ready for an adventure!

Where is it? Weald Country Park, Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, England, CM14 5QS

Is it buggy friendly? Most paths should be buggy friendly

Where are the toilets? Toilets are available a short walk from the visitor centre and each of the car parks

Parking: Pay & display available on site

Outdoor amenities: Stick Man play trail, kids play area, feeding the ducks and deer, picnics, cycling trails, walking trails, horse riding

Natalie Rayworth
Likely to be found in a museum

Natalie has lived in London her whole life. Growing up her favourite days were the ones she got to spend exploring the halls of the Natural History Museum or running around pretending to be Peter Pan in the Diana Memorial Playground. Nowadays, however, she’d be more likely seen reading, listening to her favourite music, or hunting for special gems in the countless secondhand bookshops across the city.