Enjoy a walk in our beautiful Essex countryside

If you enjoy walking or want to enrich your daily exercise routines, there are many great places you can seek out in Braintree and our beautiful villages.

Nothing beats a leisurely walk surrounded by nature in the great outdoors for an enjoyable and inexpensive day out. There are plenty of great places in Braintree District to take elderly loved ones to stretch their legs and soak in the ambience, but if you’re pressed for ideas these suggestions should help get you moving.

A forest pathway covered in fallen leaves, lined with trees on both sides, during autumn. - Home Instead

Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens

Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens  was originally the garden of Bocking House, home to Sydney Courtauld and family the famous textile manufacturers. In the late 19th century, Sydney built a new home on the site which is Causeway House today and donated the original house gardens to the people of Braintree. His idea was to provide a safe space “whither the tired mechanic could resort, with his wife and children and where the industrious tradesman could escape for a brief spell from his cares and worries of business”

Perfectly located near the centre of town, this compact park is within easy reach by foot if needing a break from shopping. There is also parking along the adjacent Bocking End Road. The Coffee House in the Garden offers refreshments and lovely treats, while those feeling more adventurous may like to play a game of tennis on one of the two courts near the back of the gardens. With a huge variety of trees, each labelled with names, one can feel like they are on a mini adventure trail as they advance upon special little areas such as the wildlife hide, playground, thatched bandstand, the pond and herb garden. There is an elaborate war memorial along the perimeter to Bocking End Road, and it is well worthwhile reading the account of local men and women from Braintree who lost their lives in service. And last but not least, there is an abundance of park benches throughout, and so spontaneous resting is easy.

A wooden bench in a peaceful park with green grass, shaded pathways, and lush trees on a sunny day. - Home Instead

Great Notley Country Park

By contrast to Braintree and Bocking Gardens, Great Notley Country Park is a wide-open space of more than 100 acres of parkland and has a Green Flag award. Great Notley Park is home to Essex’s longest play trail and sky ropes and offers the perfect family day out. There is a kid’s play trail, adventure playground café and visitors can bring their dogs and enjoy a picnic here. If you are looking for something a bit quieter. the park also offers some lovely areas to explore and enjoy nature including a fishing lake and wildflower meadows. It’s popular for a wide range of activities including birdwatching, walking, cycling, fishing, horse riding, football, picnics and kite-flying.

Getting there

Outdoor adventure park with a tall wooden ropes course structure surrounded by grass and trees under a cloudy sky. - Home Instead

Halstead Public Gardens

Halstead Public Gardens are formally laid out, landscaped in a Victorian fashion and incorporate a variety of borders and traditional park features. The gardens were designed by TW Sanders and the design incorporated various trees, shrubs and flower borders along with shelters, benches, a bandstand, pond and a Victorian drinking fountain. The park contains a range of well-preserved features from the early days and it fulfils an important role as a major open space with easy access from the town. It is highly valued by the community as an attractive open space and a link to the past.

The Gardens are a memorial to those from the town who have fallen in conflict. They are the final point on the annual Remembrance Parade and are the location for the Remembrance Service each year as well as having been used for other centenary commemoration events. A formal World War II memorial listing 37 names is also located in the space.

A large crowd gathers around a lit gazebo under string lights at night, holding candles in a park setting. - Home Instead

Bocking Blackwater Local Nature Reserve

Bocking Blackwater Local Nature Reserve  is a large area of open space, from Bradford Street, that continues along the river up to the A131. It contains wildflower meadows, amenity grassland, scrub areas, wetland habitats, there is also a wooden board walk and play sculpture on site. Along the cycleway next to Vernon Close are two woodland areas, which are only a short walk away from the main river walk. Both the woodlands and the open space contain Veteran trees and have a good range of plant species.

Find it

A small waterfall flows through a lush, green forest with sunlight filtering through the trees. - Home Instead

Millenium Green Chappel

Chappel’s Millennium Green is the most wonderful piece of green space at the centre of the village. There is a large area of green for picnics, games, kite flying, dog walking and running around, as well as lying around enjoying the scenery, gazing at clouds or just relaxing.

Next to the Green open space is an area set aside for wildlife. There’s a board walk which takes you through the wilder areas and next to the River Colne. From there it’s possible to see a barn owl hunting in the low summer sunshine or a kestrel hovering in the air before plunging into the long grass to catch its prey. There’s even been a kingfisher spotted at the riverside. This is truly a peaceful haven where one can taken a rest of one of the park benches dedicated to a deceased local person and admire the enormous Chappel Viaduct railway which stands guard over this park and  spans the River Colne in the Colne Valley in Essex, England. It carries the Gainsborough Line which now is a short branch linking Marks Tey in Essex to Sudbury in Suffolk.

The car park is located beyond the Sand Pub and there is the wonderful and historic St Barnabas Church to visit across the street. Find it

A train crosses a tall viaduct bridge over a lush green landscape with trees, fields, and scattered buildings. - Home Instead