Take our Explore Essex 2020 Challenge

Get out more this winter and Explore Essex

Every New Year we all start off with the best of intentions to get fit, healthy or learn a new skill. It's the time of year when we all say 'New Year, New Me!'.

Whilst it isn't always easy sticking to your resolutions we've pulled together a list of 101 ideas to help you get out more this 2020.

Receive a certificate and be entered into a prize draw to win a family Essex Explorer’s Hamper!

Can you and your family do 20 of our challenges/activities this year? From den building to birdwatching, watching a classic film in a new environment or discovering a work of art, we've got something for you.

Share your images with us #ExploreEssexChallenge and you could win a luxury Essex Explorers hamper containing aBraintree Village gift voucher worth £50. Everyone who completes the challenges and claims their certificate will be entered into a prize draw to win the hamper. The winner will be drawn on 23 March 2020.

Entry to the parks is free, and every penny spent on car parking is reinvested into the upkeep and development of the parks and protection of the wildlife within.

We hope to see you soon.

Facebook: @exploressex

Instagram: @exploressex

Each entrant who completes the 20 challenges will receive a certificate.

Email: Explore.Essex@essex.gov.uk to sign up and claim yours.

How to Enter

To enter this prize draw simply do the following:

1) Take a picture of you and your family completing each challenge

2) Share these pictures on Facebook or Instagram @exploressex using the #ExploreEssexChallenge

3) Like the Facebook or Instagram page where you’ve shared your photo (to make it easier for us to contact you!)

(If you're not on social media simply email us to share instead). View our full T&Cs here.


Explore Essex 2020 Challenge

  1. Capability Brown was one of the UK’s top landscape architects. Can you find the pond he designed at Belhus Woods Country Park
  2. Swoop and soar on the Sky Ropes at Great Notley County Park
  3. Research your family history at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford
  4. Follow the Gruffalo trail in the Deep Dark Wood at Thorndon North Country Park
  5. Get on your bikes! Try mountain biking at the site of London 2012 at Hadleigh Park
  6. Blow away the cobwebs and build a sandcastle on the beach at Cudmore Grove Country Park
  7. Explore the permanent exhibition at Jaywick Martello Tower, discover more about the history of our coastline defences
  8. Take a photo in the Cloud Hammocks on the Stick Man trail at Weald Country Park
  9. The ancient woodlands of Essex are hundreds of years old. Explore the ancient woodland at Danbury Country Park and take a guess at how old the trees are?
  10. Take a photo of something that inspires you and share it with us
  11. Come and see the stunning migratory flocks of Brent Geese arriving on our shores from Russia at Cudmore Grove during the winter months
  12. Witness the first signs of Spring and go on a Snowdrop Walk at Weald Country Park
  13. Watch a film in a new environment; go and see Blade Runner (15) Tuesday 21 January Essex Record Office 7pm
  14. Visit the historic Cressing Temple Barns; the barns were built by the Knights Templar in 1137, and are among the oldest and largest surviving timber barns in Europe
  15. Find the ducks at Danbury Country Park lakes; can you spot a Mallard or a Teal?
  16. Try geocaching! Explore the beautiful surrounds of a Country Park with GPS technology, what treasures will you uncover?
  17. Find at least five different species of trees in our Country Parks
  18. Treat your furry friend to the dog activity course at Thorndon South, or the dog agility course at Belhus Woods; there’s jumps, hoops and ramps to enjoy!
  19. Draw a picture of your favourite place in Essex and share it with us
  20. Spot the magnificent deer at Weald Country Park. Buy food from the visitor centre and feed them through the chutes
  21. Fly a kite high in the sky at one of our Country Parks. Hadleigh, Cudmore Grove, Weald and Thorndon South have plenty of open spaces to enjoy the fresh air.
  22. Explore the Flitch Way and follow the former railway line by foot or bicycle
  23. Go to the panto at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester!
  24. Take in the views across London by walking across Old Thorndon Pastures (from Thorndon South) let us know what can see
  25. Join a fun Park Run at one of our Country Parks. Most parks host Park Runs and they take place every Saturday at 9 am
  26. Visit the new permanent artwork by internationally-acclaimed artist, Henry Driver in the Wheat Barn at Cressing Temple Barns
  27. Join a volunteer group! Get more involved with local places and parks.
  28. Make a bird feeder and see which birds you can attract to your garden
  29. Take a walk around the lake at Thorndon South
  30. Hunt for fossils on the beach at Cudmore Grove Country Park. Please be careful not to disturb the cliffs!
  31. Find the grazing sheep and goats at Thorndon North. Top tip: call into the visitor centre to find out where they are likely to be
  32. Visit the Chelmsford Museum at Oaklands Park in Chelmsford and detect some ancient coins
  33. Learn to read a map and follow a route through a Country Park
  34. Play a game of rounders or cricket
  35. Find five different types of leaves or flowers
  36. Visit the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Firstsite art gallery in Colchester
  37. Come and enjoy the great outdoors with us at Family Forest School, gather round the camp fire and so much more
  38. Hug a tree
  39. Make a bug house
  40. Get on your bikes! Take a cycle ride in one of the Country Parks, you can hire bikes from Trailnet at Thorndon Country Park (from 16 February) or Hadleigh Park Cycles (all year round).
  41. Taste three different types of chocolate this Easter. Or visit the Chocolate Festival on 4/5 April at Cressing Temple Barns. Don’t forget to book your ticket.
  42. Bring your magnifying glass and go on a bug hunt, remember to count how many mini beasts you find!
  43. Have a go at parkour in our special activity area at Hadleigh Park
  44. Write a poem about your favourite place or green space
  45. Join us on a nature walk
  46. Visit the house of the Captain of the famous Mayflower ship, Christopher James, in Harwich
  47. Walk up the Belvedere mound to the remains of the folly at Weald Country Park
  48. Build a den!
  49. Paint a pebble and gift it to a friend
  50. Read a book during February half term
  51. Can you spot the fabulous Snow Bunting along the foreshore at Cudmore Grove? The bird is scarce in the UK but can be spotted during the autumn and winter months.
  52. Discover the hidden Victorian Ice House and find out how food was once kept chilled at Danbury Country Park
  53. Go to the theatre, or a music concert
  54. Attend a session at one of the Essex Outdoors centres during February half term
  55. Go stargazing! Look up into the night sky and see if you can make out any constellations
  56. See and smell the sensory garden at Thorndon North (close to the visitor centre)
  57. Watch or join the mud run in Maldon
  58. Picnics aren’t just for summer! Wrap up warm and pack a thermos and enjoy a winter picnic with your family!
  59. Climb a tree
  60. Watch a classic Hitchcock film; go and see The Birds (15) Tuesday 28 January Essex Record Office, 2pm
  61. Try your hand at bark or leaf rubbings
  62. Bring your binoculars and watch Kingfishers and Little Grebes from the bird hide at Childerditch Pond, Thorndon North
  63. Go for a swim!
  64. Attend an Essex 2020 STEAM event this year
  65. Make a campfire (* only available in Country Parks during Forest School and education sessions)
  66. Go for a jog in a park, get some green exercise
  67. Visit your local ‘Summer of Art’ trail, or travel to somewhere new to take in theirs
  68. Play hide and seek in the woods (but make sure not to lose sight of your parents/children altogether!)
  69. Visit the Blackwater Estuary from Cudmore Grove Country Park and look for Grey Seals, or catch a ferry from Brightlingsea
  70. Feed the birds
  71. Discover what lies beneath your feet! Many of our Country Parks have geology trails, what can you find?
  72. Take a walk around Danbury Country Parks' beautiful Victorian Lakes
  73. Try orienteering! There’s a special course at Belhus Woods Country Park, Great Notley Country Park and Weald Country Park
  74. Meet the peacocks at Weald Country Park
  75. Spot three different insects and find out their names
  76. Toast marshmallows (* only available in Country Parks as part of a Forest School and education sessions)
  77. Read a book in the woods
  78. Skim stones on the foreshore of Cudmore Grove
  79. Take a torch, wrap up warm and enjoy a night walk at one of our Country Parks
  80. Kick-up the autumn leaves
  81. Stand still and listen to the bird song, add audio to our Essex Sounds map. You record your surroundings, then upload the file to the website through this form
  82. Try and capture a wild animal in a photograph, such as a squirrel
  83. Attend our ‘Green Festival’ at Great Notley Country Park this summer
  84. Don your wellies and take a stroll in a stream, or seashore
  85. Exploring fungi is fun! Try and identify three different species
  86. How many ducks can you count on the lakes at one of our Country Parks?
  87. Watch the sun set over the water
  88. Play a game of ‘I Spy’ in the woods
  89. Go on a beach clean at Cudmore Grove
  90. Learn how to identify a tree by just looking at its leaves
  91. Visit an Essex Mill
  92. Make a bird box
  93. Watch a film in an outdoor location
  94. Take a walk in the woods on International Forest Day (22 March)
  95. Join one of our family craft sessions at Cressing or Weald
  96. Do yoga in the woods
  97. Collect shells on the seashore
  98. Visit our fairy and elves festival during the summer holidays and bring a little magic into your lives
  99. Collect fir cones and create a woodland inspired creature
  100. Find a rope swing in the woods and see how high you can soar
  101. Jump in a puddle and have fun with mud!

Seasonal events

Two young girls exploring a forest


Woodland Play at Danbury Country Park

Join us for woodland play sessions, aimed at the under 5's. Activities include forest crafts and building dens.

  • Dates:
    • September 27, 2021
    • October 4, 2021
    • October 11, 2021
    • October 18, 2021
  • Venue: Danbury Country Park
  • Times: 10:00am - 12:00pm
  • For under 5s
  • Price: Block of six sessions £48.00 for first child, £30.00 for siblings (under 18 months free if accompanied by a paying child, adults free). 
Toddlers splashing in muddy puddles


Home education sessions at Danbury Country Park

Aimed at home educated children, this series of six sessions at Danbury Country Park includes nature activities, forest crafts, imagination, physical play and building things.

  • Dates:
    • September 27, 2021
    • October 4, 2021
    • October 11, 2021
    • October 18, 2021
  • Venue: Danbury Country Park
  • Times: 12:30pm - 2:30pm
  • Primary School aged children
  • Price: Block of six sessions: £48.00 for first child, £30.00 for siblings (under 18 months free if accompanied by a paying child, adults free)
Two young girls exploring a forest


Family Forest School at Danbury Country Park

Don’t let the children have all the fun, connecting with nature is beneficial for everyone. Come and join us at our Family Forest School sessions.

  • Dates:
    • October 9, 2021
    • November 13, 2021
    • December 11, 2021
    • January 8, 2022
    • February 5, 2022
    • (continued …)
  • Venue: Danbury Country Park
  • Times: 11:00am - 2:00pm
  • For the whole family
  • Price: £0-£8