COVID-19 Visitor Information
Explore Essex FAQs and updates
Latest News: Road map out of restrictions
The Essex Country Parks have remained open for the benefit of local communities throughout the national lockdown. All visitors should follow the latest government guidancewhen they visit.
From May 17
The parks, car parks, children’s play equipment and limited toilet facilities are open, with our in-house cafes continuing to offer a takeaway service and outdoor seating only.
All visitors to the Country Parks must follow current government guidance, including continuing to wear face masks when using indoor spaces such as toilet and catering facilities (unless seated to eat where this service is available).
Visitors should continue to respect each other, keeping dogs under control and paying particular attention to others in potentially crowded areas such as car parks and on narrow paths.
We also ask visitors to respect their environment and be prepared to take their litter home with them.
Some rules are changing
- Gathering limits will be eased. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
Read more on the government's website here.
The Essex County Council run Country Parks are:
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.
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 or pay online in advance, 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 are no machines at Danbury car park, but you must still pay for your parking using the methods above.
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 should be open at each park. Visitors should keep their distance when queuing for these facilities. Masks should be worn inside the toilets.
Are the cafes and visitor centres open?
Cafes at our Country Parks remain open for takeaways and some limited outdoor seating. Please note that NO indoor catering is available at this time for the Cafes listed below.
- Nightingale cafe at Belhus Woods
- Oystercatcher kiosk at Cudmore Grove
- Skylark cafe at Great Notley
- Wiggly Bush cafe at Weald
- Phoebe's Pantry at Marsh Farm
- The Countryside Cafe at Thorndon North
- The Hub at Hadleigh
- Tiptree Tea Rooms at Cressing Temple Barns
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.
Check full details on the park pages.
Can my children use the play areas and equipment?
Children’s playgrounds are 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 large 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 and the trail is available to buy at the Countryside Centre.
Is the Stick Man Trail open?
Yes, the Stick Man trail is open and the trail map is available to purchase at the cafe.
Is Sky Ropes open?
Sky Ropes is open weekends only outside of school holidays.
Is rubbish being collected?
Please take your litter home and help keep the parks clean for everyone if bins are full. Please make sure to use the correct bin, dog owners should only use the dog bins provided to dispose of their bags.
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.
Can I fish at the parks?
Fishing is permitted during park opening hours only (night fishing is not allowed). Please note, you will need to purchase a fishing pass online in advance of your 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 print out of their pass or having it ready to show to a ranger on their phone. We will no longer be accepting cash payment.
Please follow the latest government guidance when visiting which includes only fishing locally to where you live and no more than once per day. More guidance can be found here.
Other Venues and Sites
Is Jaywick Martello Tower open?
We're excited to confirm that Jaywick Martello Tower will reopen from Saturday 22 May at weekends only. Find out more about JMT here.
Cressing Temple Barns
The grounds and restored Tudor Walled Garden and Barns are all now open. We are pleased to confirm that The Barns Tiptree Tea Room is now open for inside dining, retail and takeaway from Monday 17 May.
Limited toilet facilities will be available onsite. We ask all visitors to follow government guidelines when visiting. Find out more about Cressing here.
What does this mean for weddings?
Please email any queries to: Weddings.Cressing@essex.gov.uk and we'll be in touch.
What is open at the Essex Record Office?
The Essex Record Office Search Room is open to the public from 13 April. Advance booking is required.
Wedding and conference room hire bookings can now be taken. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remote services are available including:
- Ordering birth, marriage and death certificates
- Duplicate certificates service
For full details of the services available please check the website.
Are Essex Outdoor Centres open?
The Essex Outdoor Centres are starting to open!
School holiday activity days are now available at the Harlow and Danbury centres.
And enquiries can be taken for residentials.
Stay connected on social media for news and updates @essexoutdoors.
Check their website for more information here.
When will The Lock Climbing Wall open?
The Lock reopened on 12 April, and adults will be able to climb with others outside of their bubbles from 17 May - although still in groups of 6 as per government guidance.
Bookings for adult courses can now be taken.
Check the website for more here.
Stay connected on social media for news and updates @thelockclimbing