Essex Wildlife Trust
We’ve joined forces with Essex Wildlife Trust to show how easy it is to get out and about and stuck into nature via our train route.
All the reserves featured are within walking distance of a c2c train station and taking the train will also bring green benefits, cutting your emissions by around 80% in comparison to a car journey.
Gunnars Park and Shoebury Ranges Nature Reserve
Closest station: Shoeburyness
Just a 15 minute walk from Shoeburyness train station, this nature reserve is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle and go for a coastal walk, whilst discovering different wildlife around every corner.
Due to its proximity to the Thames Estuary, the reserve provides ideal habitat for migrating birds on passage to and from the UK, including ring ouzel, spotted flycatcher, wheatear, whinchat and even yellow-browed warbler. Hundreds of waders will gather along Gog’s Berth, while a grey seal occasionally makes an appearance along the seawall.
The nature reserve incorporates the Shoebury Old Ranges Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) and the Coastguard Station Grounds Local Wildlife Site. This area has more than 12 habitats to walk through, from coastal grassland and a large pond to remnant sand dunes and historic military buildings. This mosaic of habitats has allowed a range of species to thrive here, including the nationally scarce sandwich click beetle, bulbous meadow grass and the cuckoo wasp. The historic buildings are also used by wildlife – in the summer months look out for barn swallows zipping in and out of the gaps to feed their young nesting inside.
Two Tree Island Nature Reserve
Closest station: Leigh-on-Sea
Just a 20 minute walk from Leigh-on-Sea station, the land at Two Tree Island was reclaimed from the sea in the 18th century when a seawall was built around the saltmarsh to originally be used for farming. Now managed as a nature reserve, it is a firm favourite walking destination and a fantastic site for birdwatching.
During winter, wander round the western section and you will reach the Lagoon Hide, where hundreds of waders such as curlew, dunlin, avocet, redshank and black-tailed godwit flock to in winter. You might also be fortunate enough to see a short-eared owl gracefully hunting throughout the autumn and winter months.
During the summer months the site is brimming with rare insects and butterflies, including the incredibly rare shrill and brown-banded carder bee and wonderful butterflies like marbled white and Essex skipper. Look to the skies and you’ll often see kestrel hovering over the reserve looking for field voles and look to the ground on a warm morning and you might catch a glimpse of a sunbathing adder or slow-worm.
Thameside Nature Discovery Park
Closest station: Stanford-le-Hope
Just a 40 minute walk from Stanford-le-Hope and situated on the Thames Estuary, Thameside Nature Discovery Park is fantastic for family days out, bird and ship watching, historical interest and getting away from the hustle and bustle. The views across the Thames Estuary are stunning, especially from the fully accessible rooftop viewing deck which offers 360 degree views of the Nature Park and Thames.
The area is an avian hotspot and throughout the year there are overwintering and migrant bird species residing at the park and in the River Thames. There are internationally important numbers of ringed plover and avocets and nationally important numbers of grey plover, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, redshank on the adjacent mudflats as well as a treasure trove of butterflies, moths and bees on the Nature Park grasslands.
Closest station: Stanford-le-Hope
Just a 30 minute walk from Stanford-le-Hope station, Stanford Warren is a fascinating reedbed habitat created by gravel extraction in the 1920s. Now the site supports an exciting number of species, during spring and summer the reedbeds come alive with the sound of birds, including cetti’s, reed and sedge warblers which all breed here. This is particularly important because the endangered cuckoo regularly uses these warblers as hosts for their eggs. On a warm day you might also catch a glance of reptiles basking in the sun near the rough grassland
Chafford Gorges Nature Discovery Park
Closest station: Chafford Hundred Lakeside
Just a 25 minute walk from Chafford Hundred station, Chafford Gorges Nature Discovery Park offers 200 acres of green space for wildlife and people of Chafford Hundred. A network of pathways take you around the lakes, meadows and woodland. You can get up close and personal with the wildlife, history and geology of the site.
You can find the full list of Essex Wildlife Trust reserves on their website.