This Autumn treat your four-legged friend to new canine adventures across the county. Explore Essex has created the top places to take your dog walkies.
An Essex Country Parks spokesperson said: “Taking the dog for a walk is a great way to maintain fitness. Essex also has so many wonderful places to explore, we’d like to challenge the people of Essex to get out and about this Autumn and find somewhere new.”
- Enjoy new Stick Man Trail at Weald Country Park
All doggies love a stick, but all family members will love the new Stick Man Trail at Weald Country Park near Brentwood. Your four-legged friend will be able to meet Stick Man, squirrel, swan, rabbit and frog as you explore the newly opened official Stick Man sculpture trail, based on the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and licensed by Magic Light Pictures. The country park also boasts 520 acres of woodland, lakes, hay and wildflower meadows as well as a fallow deer park, perfect countryside for you and your hound.
- Acres of space to roam by the sea at Cudmore Grove
There’s nothing like the fresh sea air to invigorate you and your canine. Head over to Mersea Island and enjoy some on and off-lead action. Cudmore Grove Country Park in east Mersea is situated on the Blackwater and Colne estuaries and its grasslands are the perfect location to let your dog of the lead and burn off excess energy. The country park also offers access to a pretty sand and pebble beach, the perfect location to relax whilst your furry friend takes a well-deserved dip in the sea! Remember to supervise dogs at all times near water and mudflats, keep away from the cliffs and check the tides. Cudmore Grove Country Park also offers a large children’s adventure play area, bird hide and acres of space for all members of the family to walk, run and paddle!
- Enjoy heritage and estuarine views at Hadleigh Country Park
Famed for being home to the London 2012 mountain biking track, Hadleigh Country Park also offers great walking adventures for you and your pup. Choose between a one-kilometre family friendly trail or take on the nine-kilometre loop where you’ll discover trees, pasture and stunning views over the Thames Estuary. Hadleigh Country Park has recently welcomed new herds of grazing goats and cows, which is part of their natural land management programme. Dogs are free to explore the country park, but please place your furry friend on a lead when near livestock. There’s much to see and do at Hadleigh, such as taking the walking route to Hadleigh Castle; bring a picnic and sit back and enjoy the rolling open landscapes or pop into the Hub café for a cuppa.
- Thorndon Country Park Gruffalo trail
Dogs love a walk in the woods, and a trip to a woodland is even more fun if you find a Gruffalo! Great for all members of the family, Thorndon Country Park near Brentwood is where you’ll find creatures from another Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler classic, ‘The Gruffalo’, also licensed by Magic Light Pictures. Remember to keep your four-legged friend under control on a lead or by command along the pathways, but also check out the dog activity course which runs around the picnic area at Thorndon South.
- Dog agility at Belhus Woods
Playful pooches will love a day out at Belhus Woods Country Park near South Ockenden. Not only does it offer over 300 acres of ancient woodland, lakes, meadows and musical themed children’s play to explore, there’s also large trails through the woodland and around the lake. If you want your pooch to be ‘top dog’ head over to the dog agility training and large fenced area, perfect for training pups and rescue pooches.
- Enjoy accessible or circular routes at Danbury Country Park
We all like a change of scenery when we’re walking the dog and Danbury Country Park, near Chelmsford offers just that! Explore 45 acres of grade II listed park and gardens with lakes, ancient woodland, wildflower meadow and historic features. There’s lots of different walks to choose from along well-maintained surfaces, plus benches where you can wonder at the changing colour of leaves and admire the views. Or you can amble through forest paths getting your hound to catch a stick or two!
- Get close to nature at Marsh Farm Country Park
Set beside the river Crouch, near South Woodham Ferrers, lies over 300 acres of stunning marshland walks at Marsh Farm Country Park. The habitat is a haven for wetland birds and other wildlife, so whilst out walking your canine friend, make sure you’ve packed your binoculars and see how many species you can spot! The country park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a great place for wildlife; all dogs are welcome but keep them under control and away from birds and grazing sheep.
- A great walk for all the family – play trail at Great Notley Country Park
Everyone wants to have fun, so head over to Great Notley Country Park’s 1.2 kilometre play trail which is ideal for children and adults alike! Everyone loves to step onto the giant seesaw, take on the rope climbs, zoom down the zipwire and have fun in the sand play area, but please do make sure you keep your dog on a lead on the play trail. Great Notley Country Park also offers walks around lakes and wildflower meadows and onto the Flitch Way, all paths are well kept and flat.
- Discover somewhere new!
Challenge yourself to seek out new places to walk the dog! Everyone gets stuck in a rut, trudging the same path with your furry friend at your heels. See if you can find somewhere new on your doorstep, as well as somewhere you’ve never been before. Walking the dog will give you a new sense of adventure!
To discover more about Explore Essex’s country parks, visit www.explore-essex.com. Entry to all country parks is free, although car parking charges apply. An Explorer Pass provides free parking at all Explore Essex country parks and discounts at many cafés, costing just £85 per year. To purchase visit: www.explore-essex.com/explorer-pass.