Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre


Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre is the gateway to the Daws Heath Woodland. The centre provides a space for schools, groups and families to learn about south Essex’s fantastic ancient woodlands in an interactive way.


Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre
Eastwood Road North
Leigh on Sea
A static map of Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre

Know before you go

469 hectares

Parking information

Limited and disabled parking available

Bicycle parking

Bike parking available


Disabled parking available, various routes around the reserve. Contact the centre for further details.


Dogs permitted
Please note that dogs are permitted on the reserve but are not allowed inside the Nature Discovery Centre.


Visitor centre
Picnic area
Accessible toilet
Baby changing facilities
Outdoor play area
Electric car charging point

When to visit

Opening times

Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre is open 7 days a week from 10.00am-4.00pm.

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

Belfairs Nature Discovery Centre is a visitor, community and education centre. It is an important gateway to the Belfairs & Daws Heath Living Landscape, in south Essex, where Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are working, together with many partners and local people, on conservation and education activities, to preserve this fantastic landscape for future generations. The striking, wooden-clad building has been constructed sympathetically to its environment. Inside, there are an education hall (also available to hire as a meeting hall), shop, information displays and refreshments area.

Belfairs Woodland Centre introduces visitors to the 1160-acre Living Landscape, a third of which is woodland, including a number of outstanding sites valuable for nature conservation. It is a crucial green lung surrounded by urban areas and provides a tremendous green space of great importance to local people of the Boroughs of Southend and Castle Point.

Much of the woodland is officially ‘ancient woodland’; some is more than 1,000 years old, making it the earliest woodland recorded in Essex. The woodlands are home to a number of historic landscape features and a wide variety of flora and fauna, including several nationally-threatened species.

The dormouse, heath fritillary butterfly and song thrush are key species here, as is the unusual Wild Service tree, an important indicator of ancient woodland. The woods are enjoyed by local residents and visitors for walking, cycling, horse riding, golf and bowls. Most of the woods survive from an age when woodland was a vital economic resource. Coppicing and woodland rotation helped long-term sustainability, creating a patchwork of trees of different age, height, density and species – incidentally supporting a far greater diversity of plant and animal species.

Essex Wildlife Trust and other partners within the Living Landscape have resumed these traditional woodland management techniques, which will help the return and spread of declining species. 

Contact us

The Nature Discovery Centre is managed by Essex Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01702 477467

Environmental designation

Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)


The project has been funded by a number of organisations and individuals and Essex Wildlife Trust would like to thank them for their support. In particular, funding has been received from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, MaxiGreen, INTERREG IVA 2Seas, Biffa Award, Cory Environmental Trust, Veolia Pitsea Marshes Trust, Bernard Sunley Charitable Trust, Olympus Keymed, Network Rail and organisations associated within the Timber Trade.

Belfairs cafe


We serve a selection of hot items, sandwiches, wraps, paninis, toasties, children’s lunch boxes, homemade soups and vegan chilli, delicious handmade cakes; including gluten & dairy free, cream teas, toasted teacakes and seasonal homemade bakes.

Open daily, serving from 9.00am – 5.00pm (4.00pm during winter) with hot food served until 30 minutes before closing.

Belfairs shop


The Visitor Centre has a well-stocked shop including binoculars, wildlife books, bird food and feeders, gifts, greetings cards, toys and games, local honey and jams, packaged snacks and ice creams.