Parks are at the heart of the best childhood memories. Learning to ride a bike, playing with friends, watching the world go by – parks are fantastic places to spend time together or recharge on your own.
Every year, the Green Flag Award® scheme recognises the nation’s well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for recreational outdoor places in the UK and around the world.
Here’s a list of all the Green Flag parks and green spaces in Essex this year:
Braintree Green Flag Parks
Great Notley Country Park, Essex County Council
Great Notley, CM77 7FS
The park is open daily from 8am until dusk. 100 acres of open space, home to Sky Ropes and Essex’s longest play trail. Popular for birdwatching, walking, cycling, fishing, horse riding, football, picnics and kite-flying. Public toilets in the park’s Discovery Centre are open 10am to 5pm summer and 10am to 3pm winter, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities. Changing Places facility, located on the ground floor at the rear of the Discovery Centre, open every day from 8am until dusk. Charged car park.
Brentwood Green Flag Parks
Thorndon Country Park, Essex County Council
Thorndon North – The Avenue, Brentwood, CM13 3RZ
Thorndon South – Arterial Road, Brentwood, CM13 3LW
The park is open daily from 8am until dusk. 500 acres of diverse habitats, managed for its precious wildlife and many visitors. Toilets in the park, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities. Shop and tearoom and Gruffalo self-led trail at Thorndon North, and café at Thorndon South. Charged car park. Events held throughout the year.
Weald Country Park, Essex County Council
South Weald, Brentwood CM14 5QS
500 acres of woodland, lakes, hay and wildflower meadows, deer park, open grassland, spectacular views and Stick Man play trail. The park is famous for its wildlife, including fallow deer, cattle, herons, mallard ducks and other water birds. There’s a toilet block within walking distance of each of the four car parks, including disabled and baby change facilities. Visitor Centre includes a shop and café. Charged car park.
Castle Point Green Flag Parks
Woodside Park Benfleet, Castle Point Borough Council
Thundersley, Benfleet, SS7 4PB
Open all day, every day. Free parking for up to 60 cars. Two playgrounds, two cricket squares and a basketball court.
Chelmsford Green Flag Parks
Admirals Park & Tower Gardens, including the adjoining West Park, Chelmsford City Council
Chelmsford, CM1 2PN
Free parking. Car park gates open 10am weekdays, 9.30am weekends, closing times vary (see website). Toilets and playground on site.
Andrews Park, Chelmsford City Council
Salerno Way, Chelmsford, CM1 2EH
Open all day, every day. Facilities include free parking, football, adiZone, tennis and a playground.
Boleyn Gardens, Chelmsford City Council
Montagu Gardens, Chelmsford, CM1 6EB
Car park gates open 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Playground on site.
Beaulieu Recreation Ground and Grand Vista, Chelmsford City Council
Burnell Gate, Chelmsford, CM1 6ED
Car park gates open from 7.30am to 10pm. Cricket, football, and tennis court.
Brook End Gardens, Chelmsford City Council
Leapingwell Close, Chelmsford, CM2 6RZ
Open all day, every day. Playground on site.
Central Park, Chelmsford City Council
Seymour Street, Chelmsford, CM2 0RW
Open all day, every day. Facilities are a playground, adiZone, basketball, skateboarding, and tennis. Plus a cafe, toilets and disabled toilets on site.
Chancellor Park, Chelmsford City Council
Eglinton Drive, Chelmsford, CM2 6YL
Free car park opens from 8am to 10pm. Facilities include football and tennis. Disabled parking and lit court.
Chelmer Park, Chelmsford City Council
Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 8RL
Free car park gate opens from 7.30am to 10.30pm. Facilities include cricket, football, hockey, netball, outdoor gym and tennis. Toilets, disabled toilets, lit court and a playground.
Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve, Chelmsford City Council
Chelmsford, CM1 1PW
Open all day, every day.
Chelmsford Cemetery & Crematorium, Chelmsford City Council
Writtle Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 3BL
Grounds Summer Opening: 1 April to 30 September, Monday to Friday: 9am to 6:30pm, Weekends and bank holidays: 10am to 6:30pm
Grounds Winter Opening: 1 October to 31 March, Monday to Friday: 9am to 4pm, Weekends and bank holidays: 10am to 4pm
Compass Gardens & Saltcoats Park, Chelmsford City Council
Cutlers Road, Chelmsford, CM3 5WA
Free car park open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Facilities include cricket, football, basketball, rugby, outdoor gym and skateboarding. Toilets, disabled toilets, and a playground.
Coronation Park, Chelmsford City Council
Timsons Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 6AF
Open all day, every day. Free car park. Facilities include cricket, rugby, playground and lit court.
Danbury Country Park, Essex County Council
Woodhill Road, Danbury CM3 4AW
Danbury Country Park offers ornamental gardens, lakes, woodland and meadows. Well maintained tracks, popular with dog walkers and families. Fishing at Lower Lake between 16 June and 14 March. Toilets and disabled toilets. Charged car park. Events held throughout the year.
Hylands Estate, Chelmsford City Council
London Rd, Writtle, CM2 8WQ
Country Park encompassing 574 acres of historic parkland. Free car park open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Facilities include football, basketball, BMX. Toilets, disabled toilets, café, and a playground.
Jubilee Park, Chelmsford City Council
Watchhouse Road, Chelmsford, CM2 8NG
Car park gates open at 8am and close at 8pm. Facilities include free parking, basketball, and a playground.
Lionmede Recreation Ground, Chelmsford City Council
Sandford Road & Sandford Road, Chelmsford CM2 6DD
Open all day, every day. Facilities include bowls, tennis and a playground for young children.
Melbourne Park, Chelmsford City Council
Salerno Way, Chelmsford, CM1 2EH
Open all day, every day. Facilities include free parking, football, basketball, baseball and tennis. Toilets, disabled toilets, and lit court.
Oaklands Park, Chelmsford City Council
Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, CM2 0JJ
Free car park open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Facilities include cricket, football, rugby, tennis and a playground.
Springfield Hall Park, Chelmsford City Council
Arun Close, Chelmsford, CM1 7QE
Free car park open from 8am, closing times vary (see website). Facilities include a football pitch and a playground.
Colchester Green Flag Parks
Castle Park, Colchester Borough Council
Colchester Town Centre
A Victorian Park set in the town centre. Park opens from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Facilities include toilets, large playground, two museums (one free to enter), boating lake, and cafe. Events held throughout the year. Dogs are only allowed in the Lower Park and must be kept under close control.
Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium, Colchester Borough Council
Mersea Road, Colchester CO2 8RU
Cudmore Grove Country Park, Essex County Council
Bromans Lane, East Mersea, CO5 8UE
Open all year round, 8am to dusk. 102 acres of sandy beach, impressive views, rolling grasslands and meadows. See WWII pillboxes and gun emplacements, the remains of a 16th-century blockhouse fort and a cliff that has produced 300,000-year-old fossils. Information room open daily. Charged car park, with toilets, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. Event held throughout the year.
High Woods Country Park, Colchester Borough Council
Turner Road, Mile End, Colchester CO4 5JR
The Country Park includes woodland, open spaces (ideal for picnics) a lake, big community garden, wildflower meadows, visitor’s centre with a creative corner for kids, light refreshments, toilets and baby changing facilities in the disabled toilet. Car park charges will apply to Turner Road Car Park. Chanterelle Car Park is free of charge. Events held throughout the year.
Wivenhoe Park, University of Essex
Colchester CO4 3SQ
Historic park, immortalised by painter John Constable. Three consecutive man-made lakes. Toilets and cafes located at the University.
Epping Green Flag Parks
Epping Forest, City of London
Set on the London/Essex border, Epping Forest is the City’s largest open space, covering approx. 2,400 hectares from Manor Park to the north of Epping. They host events throughout the year and visitors can enjoy walking and running, cycling, horse riding, angling, football or golf. There are four visitor centres (High Beach, Wanstead Park, and two at Chingford, where you can find maps, leaflets, history, toilets and staff help. 52 free car parks throughout the Forest.
Greenacres – Epping Forest, Greenacres Groups Ltd
Kiln Road, North Weald, Epping, Essex CM16 6AD
Greenacres is a natural Cemetery and Ceremonial Park set in 52 acres of mature woodland surrounding award-winning ceremonial buildings. A peaceful place for tranquil family walks.
Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve, Essex Wildlife Trust
Grange Farm, Chigwell, Essex IG7 6DP
The largest remaining water meadows in Essex. This 160-acre reserve is famous for the beautiful wildflowers, such as Southern Marsh Orchids and Yellow Watercress which flourish on this reserve. Facilities include a picnic area, toilets, disabled toilet, and baby changing.
Harlow Green Flag Park
Harlow Town Park, Harlow District Council
Park Lane, Harlow CM20 2QQ
The park covers 164 acres and includes a variety of gardens, the Stort Valley Meadows and Peace Wood, paddling pool, bandstand, skate park, outdoor gym, adventure playground, Pets’ Corner and Spurriers House. Charged car parks. Toilets are available next to Pets’ Corner including a Changing Places toilet.
Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, Harlow District Council
Parndon Wood Road, Harlow, Essex, CM19 4SF
There’s a 1.5km woodland trail with associated guide and map highlighting the many features of the wood, and an easy access alternative for kids. Trail quiz and seasonal spotter sheets. Tea room, conservation centre, birthday party venue. Regular children’s events and activities. Toilets, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities.
Rochford Green Flag Parks
King George V Playing Field, Rayleigh Town Council
Eastwood Road, Rayleigh, Essex SS6 7JQ
Open 7 days a week from 7.00am till dusk. Playground, football pitches and snack bar (see website for opening times and days). Toilets.
Southend Green Flag Parks
Belfairs Park and Nature Reserve, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Eastwood Road North, Leigh on Sea, SS9 4LR
1160 acres of woodland, open spaces and a number of outstanding sites valuable for nature conservation. Facilities include café, gift shop, visitors centre, toilets, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. Electric vehicle charging unit. Regular events and activities.
Chalkwell Park, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Chalkwell Ave, Westcliff-on-Sea SS0 8NL
Open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). 27 hectares containing several flower gardens, two children’s playgrounds, a skateboard/BMX park, football, cricket, basketball and tennis fields, café and function room.
Priory Park Southend, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Victoria Ave, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6ND
Open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). 45 acres containing a children’s playground, basketball and tennis courts, four bowling greens, formal gardens, fishing lake, museum, café and toilets
Southchurch Hall Gardens, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Southchurch Hall Close, Southend, Essex, SS1 2TE
Open from 7.30am, closing times vary (see website). Moated medieval manor house set in beautiful gardens. Refreshments and toilets (no disabled toilets) are available in the exhibition room at the Hall.
Southchurch Park, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2XA
31 acre park with sports pitches, formal gardens, a model boating lake and a café. Toilets and disabled toilets. Free parking
Tendring Green Flag Parks
Clacton Seafront & Marine Gardens, Tendring District Council
Marine Parade, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1RH
Based on the seafront, close to attractions and amenities.
Cliff Park, Tendring District Council
Main Road, Dovercourt, Harwich CO12 4AJ
Facilities include small games area (MUGA), an informal football pitch, an outdoor gym, a good-sized children’s play area, toilets, and a cafe (open daily in summer months, and during weekends and school holidays during the rest of the year). Parking available in adjacent streets or at the nearest public car park at Milton Road, roughly 400m away.
Crescent Garden, Tendring District Council
The Crescent, Frinton-on-Sea CO13 9AP
Tranquil gardens located near the seafront. Parking along the road and toilets can be found opposite the gardens along the Esplanade.
Weeley Crematorium, Tendring District Council
Colchester Rd, Weeley CO16 9JP
The Room of Remembrance and Gardens are open every day including Public Holidays (see website for seasonal opening times). Toilets can be found at the crematorium.
Thurrock Green Flag Parks
Belhus Woods Country Park, Essex County Council
Romford Road, Aveley, South Ockendon, RM15 4XJ
The park is open daily from 8am until dusk. Facilities include charged car park, picnic areas, good access for wheelchair users, fishing (day tickets are available on the bank), Visitor Centre with light refreshments, gifts, toilets and baby changing facilities. Events held throughout the year.