5 Places to visit in Essex for FREE this Summer

Hi there, this is Clare – Mummy to Emmy and Harry, a former Nanny and WAHM blogging life’s adventures and misadventures over at www.emmysmummy.com and more recently a little space of my own to share musings of a mummy over at www.thismummysalwayswrite.com. I live in Essex so wanted to share some of the best places to visit during the summer.

We all know that the Summer holidays are LONG, and kids hate to be bored, not that there is anything wrong with a little boredom – its actually good for children to be able to amuse themselves for a while, maybe not the whole 6 weeks but a day here and there isn’t going to harm them what so ever.

Because the kids are at home for 6 weeks it can become expensive, even factoring in the fact that they will now be home for lunch can add a few pounds a week to the shopping bill, and if like me you work from home – getting the work done becomes a little more challenging in school holidays therefore I don’t make as much money as I could do when they are in school. But not everything you do has to be expensive, and you don’t actually have to stay indoors either.

Here are my favourite 5 places to take children for FREE in Essex:

Great Notley Country Park (Essex CM77 7FS)

Great Notley Country Park is a great place for children (and adults) of all ages.

The Country Park covers some 100 acres of open space and home to Essex’s longest play trail – 1.2km – which includes a giant see-saw, climbing forest, tyre swings, sand pits, rope climbers, slides, forts, a water play area and of course the woodland and open fields for fun and games.

There is also a cycle route which is flat and hard-surfaced, so it is perfect for getting the hang of riding a bike for the first time.

Take a picnic or visit the on-site café and you can happily spend the whole day.

Dog’s are welcome making it a great place for all ages to explore and if you did want to add a little more action into your day there is the newest addition of high ropes and high ropes junior for the thrill seekers out there (there is a charge for the high ropes).

Parking is available in the very large pay and display car park.

Lea Valley White Water Rafting Centre (Waltham Abbey)

This centre was purpose built for the Olympics and set in a beautiful and peaceful setting on the Lea Valley (yes I am biased as it’s where I live).

Of course you can go and take part in the activities here such as canoeing, kayaking and even paddle boarding (all of which you pay for) but you can also just park up and walk around the facilities watching the activities and enjoying the scenery.

I take the kids along often with the dog (dogs are welcome if kept on a lead) to walk around the site. They love watching the canoes entering the water and watching those having lessons learning to capsize and right them selves. There is a large café and bar with outdoor decking with a viewing platform where you have a beautiful view over the whole site.

There is also a large sandpit area with deckchairs for children to play in all day if they wanted to – this is actually being extended this summer to make it into a in-land beach. There will also be events and inflatables, discos and much more on over the summer for children to enjoy (fees will apply for these).

You can also take a lovely long walk or even bike ride over to Lea Valley Country Park.

Ada Cole Rescue Centre – Nazing

Open all year round, every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10am to 4pm (closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays). Entry is completely free!

Redwings is the largest horse sanctuary in the UK, which means the care for more rescued horses every day than anyone else

Redwings Ada Cole is home to over 70 horses, ponies and donkeys, including handsome Gelderlander Zippy, cheeky donkey Del Boy, lovely Shetland pony Tinkerbell and rock ‘n’ roll pony Elvis – not forgetting Redwings’ tiniest resident, Teeny Tucker!

Visitors can enjoy walking tours and horse care demonstrations, followed by hot drinks and tasty bakes from the café. There is also an on-site gift shop offering a range of souvenirs, all proceeds from which support the hundreds of horses in their care.

Thurrock Museum

Explore Thurrock Museum, in the Thameside Complex, Grays.

Thurrock Archaeology, Agriculture, Churches, Education, Local Government, Fire Service, Parish History, Retail History, Brick Making, Local Photographers, Chalk and Cement, Deneholes, Explosives Industry, Thurrock at War and much much more!

Here you can explore the history of Thurrock through 40 permanent display cases and 20 temporary display cases, containing over 1,500 objects, interpreting 250,000 years of Thurrock’s past.

Discover the mammoths from Aveley, the earliest known Thurrock coins dating to 75bc, Prehistoric Flint tools, Roman Pottery, Saxon artefacts and medieval finds from Grays. See a heavy horse harness, leather fireman’s pipe, cast Iron boundary post for Sir John Cass, a Victorian post box and railway notices.

Entry is free

Wat Tyler Country Park – Basildon

125 acres of country walks, wildlife spotting, adventure play for kids. Just off the A13 near Basildon, Essex and just 40 minutes by train from the heart of London.

There is also an adventure park which is designed to put a huge grin on children’s faces. Featuring a fabulous running wheel, exhilarating zip wires and the big dizzy disc, along with more sedate swings for a little gentle recovery after all that adrenaline-pumping exercise.

It’s fun, free and fabulous, in easy reach of the free Wat Tyler Centre car park, the café and kiosk.
The miniature railway runs close to the park, and in school holidays you’ll often find more fun in a bouncy castle on the Village Green too!

Perfect for dog walking, photography and a fun and free family day out.

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