Best 5 Winter Park Walks in Essex

We have five Winter Park Walks for you, from the wild Essex coast to historical landscapes, there's a walk for everyone

Posted on 27th November 2023

The Explore Essex team have compiled some of our favourite winter walks in the Essex Country Parks to help you get out more and enjoy this winter season with your friends and family.

The temperatures are dipping, and the days are short which makes it even more important to make the most of the daylight hours, but don’t worry, we have a walk for everyone.

Whether you’re looking to escape to the coast and blow away the cobwebs, partake in a spot of amateur (or professional) birdwatching, enjoy accessible footpaths or ramble through ancient woodlands read on and discover the walk for you.

(Remember to check the individual place pages for opening times. Some cafes will be shut over the festive period and in times of staff sickness/shortages.)

1. The Coastal Walk

Take a wild winter walk at Cudmore Grove Country Park

A nature reserve of over 102 acres of unique coastal landscape overlooking the Colne and Blackwater estuaries, Cudmore Grove Country Park is in the east of the island of Mersea.

Enjoy several miles of footpaths that circle and cross the site including the sea wall walk which takes you alongside the estuary and grazing marshes.

Venture off-piste onto the beach at low tide and you’ll see a wealth of shells – particularly oyster. The very lucky visitor may even find a small bronze-age artefact, small mammal bone or shark’s tooth. The stunning orange cliffs date back to the interglacial period and once revealed prehistoric hippopotamus bones!

Cudmore Grove is perfect for a wide-range of walkers from nature-lovers, dog walkers and families with young children.

Facilities include car park, toilets and refreshment kiosk. (Kiosk only open at weekends in the winter).

Plan your visit here.

2. The Woodlands Walk

Ramble through ancient woodlands at Belhus

Over 300 acres of Country Park in the South West of Essex close to the M25 and A13, Belhus combines ancient woodlands and working woods with grasslands and conservation lakes.

Start at the car park and head towards the Visitor Centre. Then take the footpaths thought Running Water Wood, to Little Brick Kiln Wood, weave up between the lakes into Whitehall Wood and back to the Visitor Centre, or take a longer route across the meadows.

Belhus sits on the Taplow Terrace (as do Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London) the gravel is 125,000 – 235,000 years old. Traces of a prehistoric settlement were uncovered on the edge of Whitehall and Brick Kiln Woods dating back to 800-600 BC (excavations were undertaken by Passmore Edwards Museum).

During the Norman period it was retained as a working woodland and protected by law to ensure a continued supply of game animals and birds. Still home to a diverse range of wildlife today.

Facilities include car park, toilets and café (currently only offering takeaway).

Plan your visit here.

3.The Circular Walk

Enjoy accessible paths around the landscaped lakes at Danbury Country Park

Forty-five acres of grade II listed park and gardens, this historic country park at Danbury is centrally situated near the city of Chelmsford and ideal for anyone looking for a shorter or more accessible yet scenic winter walk.

Park at the Lakes car park and take the path towards the lake’s toilet block and Middle Lake. Follow the path around the lakes, up to the ornamental garden and back round. Take a slow stroll and delight in the veteran trees and historic landscaping.

The lakes were hand dug in the medieval period and the site was also once home to the Tudor house, Danbury Palace.

Take the accessible trails around the lakes or wander off the path with your toddlers and dogs.

Facilities include car parks and toilets. No refreshments on site.

Plan your visit here.

4. The Wildlife Walk

Bring your binoculars for a bird spotting walk at Marsh Farm Country Park

With 300 acres flanking the River Crouch, Marsh Farm offers scenic walking and stunning views over the river.

In the winter huge flocks of dark-bellied Brent geese overwinter in this special landscape, other birds recently spotted include the Great White Egret. Bring your binoculars to spot the many species of waders and ducks and if you’re lucky you may even see an elusive water vole.

Simply follow the footpaths along the riverbanks or cut across the grazing salt marsh and loop round for a circular route.

Ideal for wildlife spotting and dog walking.

Facilities include: car park. No toilets.

Play your walk here.

5. The Dog Friendly Walk

Enjoy the wide-open spaces of the historical landscape at Thorndon South

Park at Thorndon South (CM13 3LL) close to the A127 and A128 on the edges of Brentwood and explore the historical landscape of Old Thorndon Hall with spectacular views across the countryside, over the Thames estuary and even as far as Canary Wharf.

Head past the Octagon Pavilion towards Old Hall Pond, then roam up the hill towards Ruin Wood (watch out for grazing animals during certain seasons) and towards Pigeon Mount then stroll leisurely back down the hill. Once back past the pond and Mill Wood, head down the field to the dog agility course and test your dog’s skills and balance!

Facilities include car park and limited toilets. Currently no refreshments on site.

If you need more convincing, read our blog piece on the surprising benefits of visiting a park in the Autumn and Winter here.

Discover all our parks and places here.

If you’re planning on visiting the Essex Country Parks regularly why not invest in an Explorer Pass (car parking season ticket). Find out more here.