COVID-19 Visitor Information

Explore Essex FAQs and updates

Latest News: Essex moves to Tier 2 from 2 December.

All visitors must follow the latest government guidance when they visit and practice social distancing. Tier 2 allows a maximum of six people to meet outside.

Essex Country Parks will remain open.

Essex County Council is pleased to confirm that all its Essex Country Parks will remain open.

The parks, car parks, children’s play equipment and toilets will remain open, with some cafes continuing to offer a takeaway service, in-line with government guidance. Please wear a mask when using any indoor facilities.

We anticipate that the parks will be busy and so ask residents to use their judgment in relation to their visit - for example considering the time and the park they choose to visit - so that everyone can enjoy these green spaces safely and sensibly.

Weald and Thorndon Country Parks are seeing particularly high numbers of visitors at weekends with car parks becoming full from around 10.30/11am.

Check the latest government guidance here.

The Essex County Council run Country Parks are:

NB: Sky Ropes at Great Notley Country Park remains closed.

What are the opening times of the Country Parks?

All ECC Country Parks will be open from 8am-dusk every day, please allow plenty of time to exit the parks.

Can I meet up with anyone outside of my household at Country Parks?

Government guidelines state that a maximum of six people can meet outside in Tier 2. Read more here.

Will I need to social distance in the Parks?

Social distancing should always be adhered to. Members of the public are asked to remain 2 metres apart from anyone outside of their immediate household in line with government guidance. Please pay attention to these rules in areas of the parks which could become busy, such as car parks and toilet facilities.

Read more about the UK government's advice here.

Are car parks open, and will you accept cash?

In order to help reduce the amount of contact with our parking machines, we are encouraging all visitors to pay for parking by downloading the MiPermit mobile and online app which you can do here.

(MiPermit is not currently available at Hadleigh or Great Notley).

Pay and display will be available, but if you want to use this method of payment, we would advise you to bring your own hand sanitiser or wipes with you to clean your hands before and after use.

Please note that due to vandalism there is no pay machine in the Woods car park at Danbury car park (but there is one at the Lakes).

Explorer Pass holders (car parking season tickets) will be able to use their Explorer Passes as normal.

Please be aware that car parks will need to close if they reach capacity. In this event the parks will also need to close to further visitors.

Will the toilets be open?

Limited toilet facilities will be open at each park. Visitors should be aware that they will need to keep 2 metres apart when queuing for these facilities.

Visitors should be aware that if they plan to wash their hands whilst using the parks, they may wish to bring their own hand sanitiser and wipes. Masks should be worn inside the toilets.

Are the cafes and visitor centres open?

Some of our Park cafés will remain open for takeaways in-line with government guidance. Check the individual site pages for details. Cafes open for takeaways include:

  • Nightingale cafe at Belhus Woods (7 days a week)
  • Oystercatcher kiosk at Cudmore Grove (weekends only)
  • Skylark cafe at Great Notley (7 days a week)
  • Wiggly Bush cafe at Weald (7 days a week)

If you have the NHS COVID-19 app, available to download for free in England and Wales, please scan the unique QR codes on site at the cafes. Find out more here.

Can my children use the play areas and equipment?

We are pleased to confirm that the children’s playgrounds in our Essex County Council owned Country Parks remain open in-line with government guidance.

This includes the popular Stick Man trail at Weald and the Gruffalo trail at Thorndon North Country Park.

Please note however that parts of the play trail at Great Notley Country Park are undergoing general maintenance.

We would encourage visitors to bring their own hand sanitiser to use before and after enjoying the children’s play equipment. Please follow social distancing measures and government guidance during your visit.

Is the Gruffalo Trail open?

Yes the Gruffalo Trail and characters are available to visitors (although you can't currently purchase a physical trail).

Is the Stick Man Trail open?

Yes, the Stick Man trail is open.

Can I fish and how do I purchase my pass?

Fishing will be permitted during Park open hours (not at night).

Where fishing is permitted, we will no longer be accepting cash payment on the day of your visit. Anglers will need to purchase a fishing pass online in advance of their visit for these sites: Belhus Woods, Danbury and Weald. These can be purchased here.

Anglers will need to show proof of purchase on the day by bringing a printout of their pass or having it ready to show to a ranger on their phone.

Is Sky Ropes open?

No. Sky Ropes will remain closed.

Is rubbish being collected?

Please take your litter home and help keep the parks clean for everyone.

Are there regular checks being carried out at Parks?

In accordance with government guidelines around public safety, we will continually monitor our park usage and undertake regular risk assessments. We reserve the right to close our Country Parks again should public or staff safety be at risk.

Cressing Temple Barns

Cressing Temple Barns to reopen from 2 December

Whilst the grounds and restored Tudor Walled Garden remained open for the benefit of local communities during the national lockdown, we're pleased to confirm that the barns and areas of the Visitor Centre will also open from 2 December.

Limited toilet facilities will be available onsite. We ask all visitors to follow government guidelines when visiting.

Are Tiptree Tearooms open?

Tiptree will be re-opening the Barns tearoom on Thursday 3 December and will operate Thursday-Sunday only for this week and next. They plan to resume to 7 day opening from Monday 14th December.

What does this mean for weddings?

Weddings and viewing are able to resume at Cressing Temple Barns from 2 December.

Weddings and viewing are able to resume at the Essex Record Office from 4 December.

To book a viewing please email:

Are any events or activities still running?

No. We regret to announce that we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel all events at our parks and places, including Cressing Temple Barns and all third party run events, for the time being. This decision has been made in line with the government’s national guidance around gatherings and social distancing.

Are there any services available at the Essex Record Office?

The Essex Record Office building will reopen on 2 December.

Services resumed include:

  • reprographics service
  • search room
  • copy certificates service

For full details of the services available please check the website..

Are Essex Outdoor Centres open?

Essex Outdoor Centres reopen from 2 December for day visits.

Stay connected on social media for news and updates @essexoutdoors.

(Essex Outdoor Centres will be closed as usual during the Christmas period.)

Will The Lock Climbing Wall be open during lockdown?

The Lock reopens to the public from 2 December. Memberships will be unfrozen, and new enquiries can be taken.

Stay connected on social media for news and updates @thelockclimbing

The Lock is closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Is Jaywick Martello Tower open?

Jaywick Martello Tower will be closed until spring 2021.