Thorndon Country Park
Thorndon Country Park
4.5
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
About
This beautiful country park contains a diverse range of habitats and is managed both for people and for its precious wildlife. There are some fantastic walks through ancient woodland and historic deer parks which lie close alongside recently planted woodland and a landscape of small pastures. Thorndon Countryside Centre is managed by Essex Wildlife Trust and the Park is managed by Essex County Council in a joint venture. Gruffalo Trail Come and see the original Gruffalo Trail - a self-led trail around the woods, searching for carvings of the Gruffalo characters. Gruffalo Activity Maps are available from the Countryside Centre, at a cost of 50p. The countryside centre offers some unique gifts and books, a separate education room, refreshments and displays. There are regular activities for children, schools and families. Few areas offer such variety as Thorndon country park and its surroundings. Ancient woodland and historic deer parks lie close alongside recently planted woodland and a landscape of small pastures, while nearby is the high forest of Hartswood and former common land. Thorndon Country Park is in two parts, the northern section on a gravel ridge and the southern part on clay soil lower down. The two parts are now linked by Old Thorndon Pastures, which is farmland that has been restored to a traditional farming landscape with small hedged fields, grazed by cattle. Thorndon Country Park North In spring, the woodlands of Thorndon North are filled with the scent and colour of bluebells, anemones and other woodland flowers. The woods are rich in birdlife and attract many species of migrant and over-wintering birds including bramblings, siskins and redpolls. Childerditch Pond is both beautiful and tranquil. Please note: Thorndon Country Park North car park is the best way to access the Gruffalo Trail. Thorndon Country Park South The open parkland at Thorndon South is busy with families enjoying barbecues and picnics, whilst drinking in views reaching out across countryside and into the heart of Canary Wharf. It's a great place to fly a kite. Thorndon Country Park offers a variety of habitats including ancient woodland, parkland, ponds, a marsh and meadow. There are some stunning ancient trees including Giant Oak and Hornbeam pollards, that are reminders that this was once a deer park. Parts of it used to be heathland, now a scarce habitat in Essex, and to restore it parts of the park, both north and south, are being grazed by goats and sheep. The park attracts a large number of woodland birds and sees more than its fair share of passage migrants and winter visitors. For example, large flocks of Siskins and Redpolls often gather in the birches, and bramblings can be seen near to the centre feeding on beech mast. There are many butterflies to be enjoyed including the uncommon Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks. The park is managed by Essex County Council's Ranger Service who are returning Conifer plantations to grassland or woodland as mature trees are harvested. The Countryside Centre in Thorndon Park North was built just after the 1987 hurricane and fallen timber from a number of Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserves was used in its construction. It is the Trust's most popular centre with over 100,000 visitors per year, and provides refreshments, a gift shop, displays and interpretation.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles435 reviews
Excellent
233
Very good
129
Average
47
Poor
13
Terrible
13

ShazzyMN
8 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Friends
A lovely quiet place to reflect.
Went to see a friends Memorial bench and to rest and reflect since the last visit there.
A quiet woodland location with the Gruffallo trail so good for all ages.
Sensory garden is lovely
Ample car parking
Cafe,shop,toilets,picnic area
Written 4 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

171flower171
Brentwood, UK21 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Family
Firstly I would like to say the actual woods are lovely, and we had a very pleasant walk.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of other problems that made this a bad experience.

The parking was difficult to work out. You need to use your mobile as it’s cashless however, you’re in the middle of the woods so there’s no signal. This leaves you standing at the machine with a useless phone and no idea how to pay.

The toilet block is bleak. There really is no other word for it. It’s filthy and looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in years.

The cafe is not too bad, we sat and had a coffee for half an hour and the atmosphere was fairly nice to begin with.

Then we noticed what was happening at the till beside us. The level of abuse the poor girls were taking from several members of the public was unbelievable. Within the half an hour we were listening we heard shrieks about ‘why do you let people walk around outside with dogs off leads’ then ‘why is the trail not longer’ and then ‘I’ve been waiting 10 minutes in this queue it’s not acceptable’ (so much for a nice, chilled family outing). There was a lot more shrieking but we couldn’t hear it over the roar of other noise.

And on and on the shrieking went. The poor girls behind the till must be responsible for the most reprehensible crimes considering all the screaming aimed at them. Very bizarre considering all they’re there to do is serve cafe snacks.

Overall, although the woods and cafe are quite nice the other facilities really let the place down. I appreciate that members of the general public behaving poorly can’t be helped these days, but the toilet block alone warrants the low review rating.
Written 17 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Purpuni
London, UK172 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Family
I spent a long time trying to locate this Gruffalo Trail near Brentwood, Essex on TripAdvisor, as searches led me to similar trails in other parts of the UK.

We arrived on a lovely sunny day in September. The parking was £5.10 for four hours. No entrance fees to the park.

There was a shop with plenty of Julia Donaldson books and merchandise. I presume a cafe towards the back of the shop. (I didn’t go there.)
Reasonable toilet facilities in another building behind this area and plenty of picnic tables. Difficult to locate many dustbins, especially by the picnic area. There were sinks at a lower height for the children, but the hand soap was hard to reach for the three year old with us.

The lettering on the shop front signage had fallen off; echoing the poor signage throughout the park.
The only map I saw was the one by this shop.

Tip: take a photo of this map or use your mobile phone map.

It was lovely just to explore the woodland and come across these beloved statues from the Gruffalo children’s book. I liked that they were carved from wood, in keeping with the natural environment. A map(s) en-route would have enhanced our experience, as we completely missed the fox, and had to go around asking where the Gruffalo actually was! Lovely carving, but the poor chap was missing his “poisonous wart at the end of his nose!”

Most of the walk would be push-chair friendly, but the wooden bridge was closed on the day we went there, and so you may need a couple of people to carry the chair across the dried up area grassy area, under the bridge.

We came from out of area, just for this Gruffalo trail. I think the park’s people are missing a trick. eg difficulty finding it on TripAdvisor; poor signage; poor maps and an iconic Gruffalo missing his warty nose. It doesn’t need to be any more commercialised in any way.

Nevertheless I had a lovely time here. Most of all the kids did too.
Written 7 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

paul d
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2023 • Family
Bravo Essex council for banning the dogs from cafe!. Now go ahead and allow only two dogs max per person in the whole park. Your revenue will double.. People will return once there are no longer 30 plus dogs at a time in packs of 8-10 twice a day roaming the woods Turn the clock back and ban professional dog walkers who make 2000 a week freely using Thorndon as their garden and doggy yard. Thorndon park have allowed a few selfish money makers to ruin what was once a wonderful place for all to enjoy. The packs of dogs are out of control and bark at anyone they want. When will the first serious attack happen.? Dog walker businesses don't love nature or wildlife and certainly not dogs that much. They love themselves love the money exploit the dogs cramming them in small vans on hot days. The dogs look bored and sometimes stressed! Animal lovers should protest, bi laws changed and the dogs should not be exploited anymore.
Written 5 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Climber22467419955
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Couples
Dogs no longer allowed in the cafe. Essex Wildlife Trust have now taken the decision to ban dogs from all of their cafes. I have written to their Head Office and received a totally unsatisfactory generic reply. We used to enjoy visiting the cafe with our dogs and meeting our friends with their well behaved dogs. I and many of our friends are extremely annoyed with this decision. This is a country park cafe where people walk their dogs. This decision is extremely short sighted and will lead to a loss of revenue to EWT which will be very notable come the winter.
Written 12 May 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

brian t
Southend-on-Sea, UK523 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023 • Friends
thorndon park is a very large area of woodland to explore differing times of the year. We arrived as a group to hopefully see the wild bluebells which are normally at this time of the year in full bloom, (end of april). However after a two hour trek what few areas there were, were very poorly represented due to the cold and the areas were being taken over by wild brambles. There are some 500 acres to explore! and the woods do have a historic link to the past. Most of the trees are not all the old due to felling for commercial reasons. The big reason for families with children is to explore THE GRUFFALO TRAIL ! With many school parties taking part.. the South entrance has NO facilities so park in the NORTH entrance which is organised with cafe and toilets. Car park is £5 for four hours.
Written 27 April 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Phil S
London, UK20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023
Have visited Thorndon Country Park before and have left two reviews which were less than glowing thanks to their bizarre rule of no dogs in the cafe area (in the middle of a forest!). Was delighted this time therefore to find that dogs are now allowed in the shop and cafe and that the staff were very polite and welcoming. Brought my 2 year old grand daughter for the Gruffalo trail which was very well laid out although she was just as happy running all over the forest kicking up leaves! Had an undercover part for packed lunches had it been raining and toilet facilities were close by and reasonable state. Enjoyable visit for all the family
Written 3 March 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

al2055
2 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022 • Family
The trail itself is lovely however the toilets were absolutely filthy. We went about 11am so not late in the day and there was dried on faeces round the outside of the toilet, it clearly hadn’t been cleaned in days.
Written 23 August 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kevin l
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022 • Couples
Awful, first greeting is a sign saying you are being monitored, second greeting is pay and display £2.30 per hr, this is Easter holidays and the park is empty, no wonder greedy scum council,
Written 7 April 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Shane J
2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2022 • Family
Far too much dog mess wardens don't monitor they stand chatting while dogs mess in front of them and they just turn a blind eye
Written 18 February 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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THORNDON COUNTRY PARK (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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