COVID-19 Visitor Information

Explore Essex FAQs and updates

*Cafés reopened at Country Parks*

We’re pleased to confirm that most of the cafes at our Country Parks are now open and serving hot drinks, snacks and ice cream.

In order for everyone to #EnjoySummerSafely we will be offering a restricted menu with takeout service only for the time being. Cafes which are currently open include:

  • The Wigley Bush Café at Weald Country Park
  • The Kiosk at Cudmore Grove.
  • Belhus Woods Cafe
  • Skylark Cafe at Great Notley

This also includes third party operators:

  • The Hub at Hadleigh
  • The Countryside Centre at Thorndon North
  • Phoebe's Pantry at Marsh Farm
  • Tiptree Tea Rooms at Cressing Temple Barns

We look forward to welcoming you back. Please remember to visit safely and adhere to social distancing guidelines.


*Essex Country Parks – Play Reopening*

We are pleased to confirm that the children’s playgrounds in our Essex County Council owned Country Parks will begin to reopen on Saturday 4 July.

This reopening 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 annual maintenance and are due to reopen by mid-July.

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

We’ll continue to keep you updated on re-openings on social media.


*Essex Country Parks - Open*

We are pleased to confirm that the Essex County Council run Country Parks will be back to normal opening hours from Thursday 11 June 2020.

All ECC Country Parks will be open from 8am-dusk.

We would ask that all visitors using the Essex Country Parks follow current government and NHS advice and social distancing rules, paying particular attention to these in areas such as the car parks and toilet facilities.

We anticipate that the parks will be busy, and so ask residents to use their judgement in relation to their visit – considering the time of their visit and the park they choose to visit for example.

(Jaywick Martello Tower, Essex Record Office, our owned Mills and Essex Outdoors remain closed at this time.)

UK government coronavirus updates

UK government can and can't do

NHS advice

The Parks reopened on 21 May are listed below.

  • Belhus Woods Country Park
  • Cressing Temple Barns
  • Cudmore Grove Country Park
  • Danbury Country Park
  • Great Notley Country Park
  • Hadleigh Country Park
  • Marsh Farm Country Park
  • Thorndon North Country Park
  • Thorndon South County Park
  • Weald Country Park


FAQs

What are the opening times of the Country Parks?

We are pleased to confirm that the Essex County Council run Country Parks will be back to normal opening hours from Thursday 11 June 2020.

All ECC Country Parks will be open from 8am-dusk.


Cressing Temple Barns

We're pleased to confirm that full access will be available from Monday 6 July. This includes the historic grade 1 listed barns, and the Tiptree Barns tea rooms. Cressing Temple Barns opens at 9am-5pm.

What does this mean for weddings?

We are pleased to confirm that we are now welcoming couples for viewings at Cressing Temple Barns. An appointment needs to be booked in advance. And guidance needs to be adhered to on your visit.


Will I need to social distance in the Parks?

Social distancing should be adhered to at all times. Members of the public are asked to remain 2m apart from anyone outside of their immediate household in line with government guidance. Please pay particular 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 santiser or wipes in order to clean your hands before and after use.

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 my Explorer Pass be extended?

Yes, all Explorer Passes that were valid as of 23 March 2020 will automatically be extended by the length of the Park closures. These have been updated on the system, so you don't need to do anything.

Will the toilets be open?

Limited toilet facilities will be open at each Park and we are implementing an enhanced cleaning regime. Visitors should be aware that they will need to keep 2m apart when queuing for these facilities. These facilities will be more limited than usual due to social distancing measures that need to be observed. The toilets will be operated on a 'one in, one out' system to the toilet block.

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.


Are the cafes and visitor centres open?

We are pleased to announce that our cafes have reopened with a limited menu for 'walk in and take out'.


No BBQs

Please note that no BBQs are allowed at any Parks at the present time.


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 will begin to reopen on Saturday 4 July.

This reopening 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 and follow social distancing measures and government guidance during their visit.


Is the Gruffalo Trail open?
Yes the Gruffalo characters have returned to Thorndon North from 4 July.

Is the Stick Man Trail open?

Yes, the Stick Man trail is open from 4 July.


Does my dog need to be on a lead?

Whilst we are in a 'phased reopening' we politely ask that dogs are kept on the lead until further notice.


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 print out of their pass or having it ready to show to a ranger on their phone.


Can I meet people from outside of my household at Country Parks?

Visitors are asked to adhere to government advice.

Is exercise permitted?

You can use the country parks to undertake exercise such as walking, running and cycling as usual. However, this should be done in line with government advice.


Is Sky Ropes open?
No. Sky Ropes will remain closed in line with government guidance and whilst safety checks are taking place.


Are water-based activities open at Hadleigh Park?

Splash Kayaking is launching on 18th July 2020 at Hadleigh Park. Find out more information here

Frangipani SUP offers group stand up paddleboarding lessons at Hadleigh Park. They will be launching on 21st July. Find out more information here.

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



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 until end July 2020, including all third party run events, in light of the evolving COVID-19 public health threat and 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 be closed to the public from Monday 23 March until further notice.

All scheduled events at the ERO have already been cancelled until at least the end of July and ticket holders notified.

We are however hoping to maintain several digital services during the closure period of the physical building, all of which will be under constant review. You can access these through our website: https://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/

Currently these include:

• Email enquiries about the records we hold

• Catalogue search

• Subscriptions and access to digital images of historic Essex parish registers and wills, as well as some electoral registers

  • The duplicate birth, death and wedding certificate service has now reopened
  • The reprographics service has reopened. If you wish to order a copy of a document, please contact the team at ero.searchroom@essex.gov.uk