“The paths are excellent; the main ones well maintained for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bikes. There are plenty of trails to enjoy – we had a lovely time walking at the bottom of the woods. There are streams and large muddy puddles – ideal for little wellies!” -- from TripAdvisor.
Thorndon Country Park has 500 acres of diverse habitats, managed for its precious wildlife and many visitors.
The tranquil woodlands of Thorndon North surround the beautiful Childerditch pond and attract many migrant and over-wintering birds such as bramblings, siskins and redpolls. In spring, the woods fill with the scent and colour of bluebells and anemones. The famous Gruffalo Trail also starts here.
The open parkland at Thorndon South is busy with families enjoying barbecues and picnics. Drink in views across countryside as far as Canary Wharf or fly a kite on one of its many hills.
If you are travelling on public transport to get to one of the Essex Country Parks – take a look at the Traveline journey planner.
8am to dusk (see gates)
Up to 30 mins £1
Up to 1 hour £2
Up to 2 hours £3
Up to 3 hours £4
Over 3 hours £5
Season parking and more
Money from parking is used to maintain the park and protect its wildlife. Please note: the parking machines will shortly be able to take the new £1 coins but please consider bringing a card for payment in the meantime or ask for a coin swap at the Visitor Centre
Natural but clearly marked paths traverse Thorndon North’s beautiful woodlands and Thorndon South’s open parkland. The Old Thorndon Pastures that link the South and North offer views as far as London. Many walks will pass fenced grazing animals, such as rare breed sheep, goats and cattle.
Horse riding routes are marked on our Thorndon Country Park map - PDF document, 1.8MB. Bring your own horse!
School groups can take part in a huge range of education days at Thorndon - the most popular is our famous Gruffalo Trail. Let our educational Rangers release your imagination and creativity in an outdoor classroom. We also design bespoke learning activities with the new National Curriculum in mind. If there is a topic you want to cover, we can help - call 0345 603 7624.
Volunteering at Thorndon Country Park is a unique experience – you’ll gain skills in nature conservation and feel involved in improving the park for visitors and wildlife. There are many tasks volunteers can get involved in, such as clearing invasive species, construction and restoring ponds. Contact Thorndon Guardians to join a great team.
Discover the magic of the Deep Dark Wood with this self-led trail searching for the amazing hand-crafted carvings of Gruffalo characters. This trail helps children understand our native woodland and see it as a welcoming place. It takes about 45 minutes to complete. Grab a map for 50p from the Countryside Centre - opens at 9.30 - keep dogs on a lead and wear wellies!
The pebbles at Thorndon Country Park’s old gravel pit have had a long and eventful history, providing evidence of massive global climate changes. Pick up a leaflet in the Countryside Centre.
We have short, medium and long fixed orienteering courses designed by local club, Havoc Orienteering. Get a map of all the courses for £2.50 from the Countryside Centre.
Our obstacle course for dogs involves jumps, ramps, tunnels, hoops and more, all with instructions - a fun way to embed their training. You’ll find the dog activity trail, built by Thorndon Guardians, along the edge and bottom of the picnic field at Thorndon South.
You can fish at Old Hall Pond in Thorndon South, with a day ticket from the Rangers that patrol the lakes, from 8am until 30 minutes before park closing, all year round.
Day tickets are £6 per rod or £3 concession - proof of eligibility required. You must have an Environment Agency rod licence and no more than two rods. Fishing rules are on the noticeboard by the lake.
Annual season tickets are available by appointment from the Ranger’s office - call 01277 211250.
There are public toilets in the park, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.
We offer a range of birthday parties, from fairies and wizards parties to adventurous mini beast hunts and room or marquee hire. To book your bespoke birthday party please call 01277 211250.
Open summer 9:30am until 5pm, winter 9:30am until dusk, the Countryside Centre is jointly owned and managed by Essex Wildlife Trust.
The shop sells cards, bird food and feeders, gifts, jams and chutneys, wildlife books, pocket-money toys and Gruffalo-themed merchandise.
There is also an information display area for local events and conservation-related topics. The tearoom serves hot and cold light refreshments such as sandwiches, ice cream, crisps, cakes and drinks.
The Pavilion Café serves light meals and refreshments, and is open weekends, bank holidays and school holiday 10am to 4pm, weather permitting.
We have a popular barbecue area by the car park at Thorndon South. More information
£2 per person – does not include parking. Children under 5 free.
We reserve the right to change costs according to demand. Groups of more than 40 people must book in advance – call 01277 211250.