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  • Essex Parks

The Best Woodland Playgrounds in Essex

Essex Woodland Playgrounds Guide

There are so many beautiful woods in Essex. A walk in the woods is a great way to explore Essex. There are plenty of ways to keep children entertained in the woods, from den building, minibeast hunting, stick collecting, splashing in streams to jumping to puddles. However, a woodland playground always make out trip to the woods more enjoyable!

There are woods across Essex - from Highwoods Country Park in Colchester, to Belhus Woods Country Park in South Essex. Here are our favourite playgrounds in the woods in Essex.

This post features the following woods with playgrounds in Essex (click to scroll to the playground):

📍 Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre, Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 4LR


Free parking

Belfairs Woods are part of an Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. There are plenty of woods to explore! Children will love den building and splashing in the stream within the woods. There is a large, wooden, climbing play structure within the woods.

Playground at Belfairs Woods Leigh-on-Sea
Belfairs Woods Playground


There is a large, linked wooden climbing frame structure set within the woods. The playground at Belfairs is located along the path between both car parks, close to the visitor centre. The climbing frame has a variety of climbs and ends with a slide. It is most appropriate for child preschool age and older due to the height of the climbing frame.

You can also find a visitor centre with shop and cafe, horse riding and a golf course.

📍Hockley Woods, Main Road, SS5 4RN


Free parking on weekends, Charges apply Monday to Friday - Up to 1 hour 30p, Up to 2 hours 50pm, Up to 3 hours 70p, Up to 4 hours £1.50, All Day £3.00

Hockley Woods are huge! There is so much space to explore, every time we visit we find a different route (and get a little lost). There are plenty of logs for climbing and the woods are perfect for den building. The play area is conveniently located close to the car park.

Hockley Woods Playground
Hockley Woods Playground


The playground is largely grass and there is also a sandpit area. Most of the equipment is wooden. There are plenty of climbing frames, balancing poles and rope climbing equipment. There are also lots of slides, metal climbing equipment, ride on equipment a variety of swings.

The only accessible play equipment is a merry-go-round.

The play equipment is suitable for a variety of ages, from toddlers to older children. The playground is enclosed, and there is seating inside the playground. The playground can get very waterlogged in winter months.

The newest play equipment is a large slide with a zipwire, which is at the back of the playground. Unfortunately, it has been cordoned off for some time. I am assuming there is a heath and safety issue.

📍High Woods Country Park, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5J


Up to 2 hours £1, 2 - 4 hours £3.30, Over 4 hours £7.20, MiPermit 737837

Highwoods Country Park is perfect for walks due to the wonderful meadows, lakes and woodlands. Highwoods Country Park is the most recently refurbished woodland playground in Essex. The new playground at Highwoods Country Park opened in December 2023.

Playground Highwoods Country Park
Bouldering Climbing Walls at High Woods Country Park


The new playground at Highwoods Country Park has kept within the natural wooden play theme. There are several climbing frames with slides, a seesaw, swings and balancing equipment. There is equipment for toddlers as well as large climbing frames and equipment for older children.

There is also a climbing rock close to the car park. Read More...

📍Hainault Forest Country Park, Romford Road, IG7 4QN 


Up to 1 hour: £1.40, Up to 2 hours: £2.40, All day: £5.20, Cashless parking - RingGo

Hainault Forest is is wonderful for woodland walks. There is also a large lake, where you can hire boats in the summer. The Hainault Forest adventure playground was renovated in July 2023 and is a great addition to the park.

Hainault Forest Country Park Playground
Hainault Forest Playground


The NEW playground is suitable for children of all ages. There is equipment for toddlers through to teenagers. The playground is wooden and has climbing frames with a tube slide. There is plenty of climbing and balancing equipment. There are also tunnels. Read More...

📍Westley Heights, Langdon Hills Country Park, Basildon, SS16 5LT


Free parking

Westley Heights is a beautiful nature reserve set within Langdon Hills Country Park. There are pathways through the woods, which are accessible and buggy friendly. The reserve also has a small woodland play area.

Westley Heights Langdon Hills Country Park
Westley Heights Playground


There is a natural play area close to the car park. It has a variety of wooden and rope equipment for climbing and balancing such as log piles and bridges. There is a nest swing and lots of picnic benches around the play area. There are also a few wooden carved animals dotted around the play area.

Some of the equipment, such as the zipwire, has been removed, which is a great shame. The play area isn't the best woodland play area we've come across but has a few pieces of equipment to keep children interested before or after a walk!

📍Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, RM15 4XJ


Up to 1 hour £2.50 Up to 2 hours £3.80 Up to 3 hours £5.10 Over 3 hours £6.30

Belhus Woods Country Park is truly beautiful. There is a lake (with plenty of ducks to feed), woodlands to explore, a visitor centre and brilliant adventure playground. The playground has imaginative and interesting musical themed equipment, as well as lots of slides, climbs and a sandy area

playground at belhus woods
Belhus Woods Playground


There are several unique and interesting play areas inside the playground at Belhus Woods. The musical instruments were our favourite.

You can also find a sand play area with wooden sculptures, lots of wooden balancing logs, climbing walls, rope climbs, slides, baby swings, a nest swing and climbing frames. There are giant chairs with slides attached and a long table with benches. There really is so much to do.

This large playground is suitable for a variety of ages and abilities.

The playground is enclosed. There is a grassy area and picnic benches within the enclosed play area.

📍Weald Country Park, Brentwood, CM14 5QS


Up to 1 hour £2.50 Up to 2 hours £3.80 Up to 3 hours £5.10 Over 3 hours £6.30

Weald Country Park is the home of the Stick Man Trail, based on the Julia Donaldson classic. There are two play areas, the first is close to the car park. The other play area is along the path around the lake and next to the woods. The country park is full of trails and perfect for dog walking.

Playground at Weald Country Park
Weald Country Park Playground


There are two play areas at Weald Country Park. The first play area is next to the car park. There are baby swings, a nest swing, a sand area and a stoney area with lots of balancing equipment. Is best for children up to 10 years old. There is a further play area on the opposite side of the lake. It is best suited for children 4 years old and older. There are balancing equipment and a challenging climbing frame with a large slide.

Neither play area is enclosed.

📍 Hanningfield Waterside Park, Giffords Lane, South Hanningfield Road, CM3 8HX


Free parking

Hanningfield Waterside Park has beautiful views across Hanningfield Reservoir and is a great spot for feeding the ducks. There is a playground and cafe. You can also walk through the woodlands to reach the Essex Wildlife Trust Centre and the Wind in the Willows Trail.

PLayground Hanningfield Waterside Park
Hanningfield Waterside Park Playground


There is wooden play equipment at Hanningfield Waterside Park. There are climbing frames with slides, a variety of swings including a nest swing, a wooden den and spinning equipment. The playground is enclosed and there are picnic benches inside the play area.

More Woodlands and Country Parks!

These woods may not have a playground but are still great fun!

Gruffalo Trail Essex

Woodland Trails in Essex

There are also plenty of trails in Essex including play trails and character trails.

Don't forget to check the Park Directory for more park inspiration - A-Z of over 100 Parks in Essex

Last Updated February 2024


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