This half-term, Explore Essex, the new brand for Essex County Council’s Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Green Spaces, offers an exciting calendar of events to get the family outside and exploring the natural wonders of Essex. For the most adventurous, Explore Essex is running a #ExploreEssexChallenge and has created 101 things to see and do across the county. The challenge encourages you to skim stones, listen to bird song and get out on your bikes whilst enjoying their country parks, historic venues and coastal landscapes.
Things to see and do
Throughout half term (from Saturday 15 February) all the Explore Essex country parks are holding free ‘Look for a Book’ walks. Here children will be able to explore the parks and find books which have been hidden and wrapped in bio-degradable bags, look out for the golden tickets you may just win entry to the Chocolate Festival at Cressing Temple Barns! Storytelling in the woods is fun and Weald Country Park will be running free-of-charge ‘Meet Stick Man’ sessions throughout half-term. Here children will also be able to meet and have their photo taken with Julia McDonald’s beloved character and create their own Stick Man! For little ones who like to get dressed up for a walk in the woods there’s a special ‘Pirates and Princesses Trail’ at Thorndon South Country Park. The trail will include lots of puzzles and clues and a mystery prize at the end (trail costs £4 per pirate or princess).
Support planet earth by planting a tree for free at Great Notley Country Park on Wednesday 19 February between 10am-1pm. Essex County Council’s Essex Forest initiative aims to plant 375,000 trees to combat the effects of carbon emissions. Great Notley Country Park will be hosting the first public planting session, so why not pop on your wellies and plant a tree? Nature lovers will also enjoy a ‘Wild Wednesday’ at Danbury Country Park on 19 February at 11am. Here children will be able to take part in this free-of-charge event and build dens, make mud pies, wade in the stream, enjoy forest craft and more.
Older children, aged between 8 -16, will get a thrill out of the Outdoor Activity Days running at Bradwell, Danbury, Harlow and East Mersea. Activities that are sure to get their adrenaline running include archery, canoeing, climbing, mountain biking, high ropes and zip wire, all designed to beat boredom. Activity days are priced from £20.
For children just starting to explore their environment, there will be free ‘Balanceability’ taster sessions, where the little ones can have their first taste of riding a balance bike under the supervision of a trained professional. This session will be at Belhus Country Park at 10am Sunday 23 February.
Explore Essex is committed to delivering a broad range of exciting facilities and events for the people of Essex. Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change Action is Councillor Simon Walsh, he says: “We’re encouraging everyone, especially families, to discover what’s on their doorstep, get active and try new things. We would like to challenge you to sign-up to our #ExploreEssexChallenge and see what new places you and your family can visit, what new skills you can learn and how much fun can be had in the great outdoors. Essex has so much to offer, unspoilt coastlines, woodlands, country parks and lakes – there’s something for everyone!
He continued: “Being outside, running around and exploring is what childhood should be about. It also helps to sow the seeds for a healthy lifestyle which will keep children fit and active all their lives.”
To sign-up to the year-long Explore Essex 2020 Challenge and view the 101 things to see and do in Essex, please visit www.explore-essex.com/events/challenge. Everyone who completes 20 challenges will be awarded with a certificate, to share images of you and your family taking part in the challenge simply hashtag #ExploreEssex2020 and you could win a family explorer’s hamper! For a full range of the Explore Essex events please visit: www.explore-essex.com