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 must follow the latest government guidancewhen they visit and practice social distancing.

From 8 March, some of the rules on what you can and cannot do will be changing:

  • you will be allowed to spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This means you can sit down for a drink or picnic. You must continue to maintain social distance from those outside your household. This is in addition to outdoor exercise, which is already permitted.

Read more on the government's website here.

Essex Country Parks are 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 and always practice social distancing. Please consider the weather forecast when you visit and wear appropriate footwear - the paths may be slippery or muddy.

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.

*Hadleigh Country Park Bike Trail Closure*

The mountain bike trail at Hadleigh Country Park has been closed for emergency maintenance with immediate effect. Please do not use.

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.

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 should 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
  • Oystercatcher kiosk at Cudmore Grove
  • Skylark cafe at Great Notley
  • Wiggly Bush cafe at Weald

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.

Is the Stick Man Trail open?

Yes, the Stick Man trail is open.

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.

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:

Cressing Temple Barns

The grounds, gardens and toilets at Cressing Temple Barns remain open..

Whilst the grounds and restored Tudor Walled Garden remain open for the benefit of local communities, we can confirm that the barns and Tiptree Tearooms will be closed.

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

What does this mean for weddings?

We are sorry to confirm that weddings at Cressing Temple Barns are cancelled until further notice.

Weddings at the Essex Record Office are cancelled until further notice.

Viewings are not able to take place.

To book a viewing please email: and we'll be in touch when viewings can resume.

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 is currently closed.

Remote services are available including:

  • Ordering birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Duplicate certificates service

Reprographics and search services will be suspended until further notice.

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

Are Essex Outdoor Centres open?

Essex Outdoor Centres are closed during lockdown.

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

Will The Lock Climbing Wall be open during lockdown?

The Lock will remain closed. Memberships will be frozen.

Stay connected on social media for news and updates @thelockclimbing

Is Jaywick Martello Tower open?

Jaywick Martello Tower will be closed until spring 2021.