Our latest statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Essex Wildlife Trust's latest statement on Coronavirus.

We continue to closely follow guidance set out by the Government, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Public Health England, as well as The Wildlife Trusts movement.

We are incredibly thankful for your ongoing support, patience and understanding. In particular we are grateful to our members and those who have donated to Essex Wildlife Trust, so that we can continue to protect wildlife and create a Wilder Essex.

If you are able to make a donation to help us, your support makes a huge difference. If you are not already a member and want to join us, our thanks in advance.

Our Nature Discovery Centres

Nine of our centres are open to the public, with strict COVID secure measures to ensure you have a safe visit with us. The Trust undertakes thorough cleaning procedures at all of our sites. Masks must be worn inside the centre, hand sanitiser is available on arrival, social distancing and one-way systems are in place, our food offer is limited to takeaway and we ask all visitors to check in via the Track and Trace QR code. We are encouraging contactless payment where possible, but cash is still welcome.

Centres within Tier 2 areas remain open, and are complying the latest governmental guidance which restricts indoor mixing to one household or bubble. The centres included within Tier 2 areas are: Abberton Reservoir, Bedfords Park, Fingringhoe Wick, Hanningfield Reservoir, Ingrebourne Valley, The Naze and Thorndon Countryside Centre. The rule of six must be adhered to for our outdoor spaces.

The following facilities are available at each centre

Tier 2 guidance applies:

Abberton Reservoir - Open every day 10am-5pm. Within the centre, takeaway food and drink are available and the gift shop is in operation along the one way system. On the reserve the playground and the Brambly Hedge trail are open. The bird hides are open with social distancing restrictions.

Bedfords Park - Open on Saturdays and Sundays only, from 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drinks are available and the toilets are open.

Fingringhoe Wick – The centre is open Friday-Monday, 10am-5pm, with takeaway food and drink available. The nature reserve is open Thursday-Monday, 9am-5pm with the toilets open and bird hides available with social distancing restrictions. The site is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Hanningfield Reservoir – Open every day from 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available, the toilets are open and the gift shop is in operation along the one way system. There is a one-way system onto the nature reserve and The Wind in the Willows trail is open; maps can be purchased from the centre. The bird hides are available with social distancing restrictions.

Ingrebourne Valley – Open every day from 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available and the gift shop is in operation along the one way system. The Council-owned play area is also open.

The Naze Centre – Closed on Tuesdays, open Wednesday-Monday, 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available, the gift shop is in operation along the one way system and the external toilets are open.

Thorndon Countryside Centre – Open every day, 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available, the gift shop is in operation along the one way system, the external toilets are open and the Gruffalo Trail is open; maps can be purchased from the centre.

Tier 1 guidance applies:

Belfairs Woodland Centre – Closed on Tuesdays, open Wednesday-Monday, 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available and the gift shop is in operation along the one way system. The Council-owned play area is also open.

Thameside Nature Park– The centre is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, 10am-5pm. Takeaway food and drink are available, the gift shop is in operation along the one way system and the toilets are open. The nature reserve is open every day, 9am-5pm, including the play area and the bird hides which are open with social distancing restrictions.

Outdoor learning events

The Trust is a COVID-secure organisation, with risk assessments and carefully thought out procedures in place for all of our events. The rule of six applies to all of our events and social distancing measures are in place.

We are offering Forest School drop-off days for children in small, isolated groups throughout the school holidays and Forest School sessions in schools. Our popular ‘Nature Tots’ groups for children aged 18 months to 5 years are regularly available. We are delivering after school clubs at school settings and delivering Forest School accredited training.

Each group is led by an experienced Forest School leader or Education Officer. Find your nearest event and book online.

If, under governmental guidelines, it is necessary for us to cancel the event, we will contact you to reschedule or refund as appropriate.

Our nature reserves

We want to say a big thanks to you, our responsible visitors, for enjoying our sites; we know you care about them just as much as us. If we need to close one of our nature reserves the restrictions will be listed on their individual webpage – please check the reserve’s page before you visit.

Please respect governmental advice when visiting our nature reserves – practice social distancing and respect the rule of six to help keep others safe.

Stay in touch

You can sign-up to our Wild News for regular advice, tips, inspiring stories or news from the Trust, straight to your inbox. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube), or explore our website. You can even watch our wildlife live on one of our Wildlife Webcams. Or watch over 250 videos we produced over lockdown to bring you nature and wildlife themed content every day – catch up on WildlifeTV on YouTube.

A special thanks

The natural world continues to need our help now more than ever, so if you would like to turn your garden into a mini nature reserve you can find endless ideas here. We need to connect up our gardens and create wildlife corridors for species to thrive in our county.

To all of the members of the Trust, we would like to express our whole-hearted thanks for your ongoing support. We will continue to share our expertise and offer you the tools to help us create a Wilder Essex.

Stay safe and stay wild.