Exploring rural Essex: Top things to see and do

Contrary to popular belief, Essex is a fabulous place to get in touch with the natural world. The county contains a long list of rural idylls. Come winter, these stunning outdoor spaces are transformed into something extra special.

If you’re thinking of indulging in a winter escape or dining experience at Gosfield Hall, you’ll want to add the following to your itinerary and enjoy the great outdoors at the most wonderful time of year.

Broaks Wood

Located within walking distance of Gosfield Hall, Broaks Wood is a stunning woodland site home to the world’s tallest trees – the Giant Redwood Grove.

Some of Broaks Wood’s tree species are thought to be thousands of years old, with the vast majority said to date back to the last ice age some 12,000 years ago.

The history of the ancient woodland has been brought to life over the years, with 12th and 13th century pottery being discovered here.

Gosfield Sandpits

Gosfield Sandpits is a nature reserve that’s known and loved by the local people of Gosfield, and a site that’s certain to be adored by you.

Whilst not as old as nearby Broaks Wood, Gosfield Sandpits (also known as Gosfield Nature Reserve) has an interesting history that has surprising links to aviation as Gosfield Parish Council explains:

“Gosfield Nature Reserve is on the site of former sand and gravel workings. From all accounts the quality of the sand and gravel was not great and the American airforce did not use it when they built the runways at Gosfield Airfield.

By the 1960s the pits had ceased to operate and what was left behind were extraction holes which had filled with waters and heaps of spoil and bits of discarded machinery. There were few trees and the whole area was a barren wilderness.”

After the site was made redundant, ownership was transferred to the Parish Council, who left the site to mature into the much-loved nature reserve it is today.

Gosfield Sandpits is now a place of peace and tranquillity for the entire community, and a haven for local wildlife.

Brookes Nature Reserve

Often referred to as Belcher’s and Broadfield Woods, Brookes Nature Reserve offers 24-hectares of diverse flora and fauna.

Home to Ash, Maple, Oak, Hornbeam, Birch, and Lime trees, the woodland’s diversity attracts all manner of wildlife all year round, including a variety of bird species.

The reserve is transformed from season to season, with spring providing an enviable collection of gorgeous wildflowers and autumn seeing foliage turn a beautiful red and copper shade. Winter offers its own unique beauty that should not be missed.

Flitch Way

Those looking for an easier walk but plenty to explore should head to Flitch Way in Braintree. You’ll find 15 miles of flat, beautiful countryside to discover along the former railway line and many more sites to explore every step of the way.

Marvel at the Victorian railway stations along the line, take a detour through Hatfield Forest or Great Notley Country Park, or seek respite in Flitch Way’s many adjoining heritage-rich villages.

Hillhouse Wood

Based in nearby West Bergholt, Hillhouse Wood is a must-see for all outdoor adventurers. This small but perfectly formed site is home to two ponds, two streams, and a plethora of different woodland species.

It’s particularly popular in spring thanks to its impressive carpets of bluebells but, as you’ll discover, winter offers its own beauty.

Explore the wilder side of Essex from the most luxurious surroundings by booking a winter escape at our award-winning venue.

For further details on all our winter stays and dining events, please click here.

To get in touch with a member of the team, please email or call us via the contact details below. Alternatively, if you'd like to request a brochure or enquire about date availability, please click 'request a brochure' in the menu at the top of this page.


T: 01787 472 914
E: info@gosfield-hall.co.uk

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