Park opening times, facilities and access

High Woods Country Park is open seven days a week all year round. It has 21 pedestrian entrances which are never locked and two car parks. 

The visitor centre is located at the Turner Road entrance to the park. It not only provides a base for the country park staff and volunteers but a place to find out useful information about this park as well as the other countryside sites. 

The visitor centre is open 5 days a week and offers a selection of delicious pastries, cakes and refreshments.

A range of gifts are also on offer from dog toys and locally produced honey to wooden bird boxes which have been handmade by our Countryside Colchester Volunteer Team.  If you are out for a walk, then come in and pay us a visit.  

High Woods Country Park Visitor Centre opening times 

  • October to March:  The Visitor Centre is open 5 days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00am to 4.00 pm
  • April to September: The Visitor Centre is currently open 5 days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 am to 4.00 pm but we will hopefully increase to 7 days a week in the near future. We are closed when it is a Polling Day.

Opening times may vary on bank holidays and over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. 
 
Public toilets (including disabled) are adjacent to the visitor centre and are open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Baby changing facilities are available in the disabled toilet. 

Car park opening times 

There are two car parks: 

  • High Woods Country Park Visitor Centre Car Park on Turner Road (pay and display, no height restrictions). 

  • Chanterelle car park, on the Highwoods estate, Chanterelle road off the A1232, Eastwood Drive (free, with a 2.1m height restriction). 

Both car parks are locked over night from:

  • 10pm – 7.30am, April to September.
  • 7pm – 7.30am, October to March.

Both car parks are open during the day time 365 days a year. 

Find more information about High Woods Country Park Visitor Centre Car Park (including prices)

Parking: Level tarmac car park at the visitor centre with space for up to 80 cars and four reserved disabled spaces. 

The visitor centre: Level entrance, power assisted front door of 90cm width, double non assist back doors of total 140cm width. 

Toilets: Located in a building next to the visitor centre, two single sex toilets and one adapted unisex toilet. Baby changing facilities are located in the adapted unisex toilet. 

The park: Most of the woodland paths near to the visitor centre are level, even and have a bound surface.

There are benches at regular intervals along the main path network radiating out from the visitor centre. Access could be more difficult for people with reduced mobility in areas away from the visitor centre. 

Woodland paths are made of compacted clay and stone. Beyond the woods the paths are mostly natural (grass), and some sections can be very wet and muddy in the winter. Terrain is undulating with some steep slopes.  

Picnic tables: A number of wheelchair accessible picnic tables can be found in the picnic area around the visitor centre car park. 

Cycling: Most of the paths and tracks in the park can be cycled. National Cycle Route 1 (Colchester to Harwich section) passes through the park. There are some steep slopes. 

Mobility scooters: The designated cycle paths through the park are ideal for mobility scooters.

They allow access from the east of the park at Hillridge on the Highwoods estate to Broadlands Way in the South and to Thronton Drive on the West. The cycle paths have some steep slopes.  

Boma mobility scooter: Since 2012 the park has provided a permanent home for a Boma 7, a lightweight off-road all-terrain wheelchair.

It opens the park up, offering disabled and mobility impaired the real possibility of access on an equal basis with non-disabled walkers and cyclists. The Boma is a Walk Colchester project.

Pedestrian access: There are 20 pedestrian entrances. Those that are accessible with wheelchairs and buggies include, the visitor centre, Thornton Drive, Hillridge, Broadlands and Chanterelle. 

Litter and dog waste bins: Litter bins are provided at several key entrances to the park. 20 out of the 22 official entrances to the park have dog bins located nearby.

Scavenger bags: Purchase a seasonal scavenger bag from the visitor centre. Excellent for keeping young children entertained and engaged with discovering their surroundings whilst on a walk in the park. 

Pond dipping: Bring your own equipment for pond dipping, a pond net and tray, or purchase the items from the visitor centre.

The dipping pond is located approximately 150m from the visitor centre. Children must be supervised at all times and follow all the safety advice given on the site signage.  

The Big Garden: Wheelchair accessible including raised beds. 273 metres from the visitor centre along level bound surfaced paths. 

Fishing: There are 13 fishing swims. The lake is 510 metres from Chanterelle car park and 420 metres from the visitor centre car park.  Access to the lake is via steep slopes which can be very muddy in the winter.  

Walking trails

Make your visit more enjoyable by downloading our free High Woods Wildlife Trail app from Google Play.

The app is also available on the Apple AppStore.

Follow our 1 mile nature trail, have fun with our wildlife quiz and find out more about the wildlife in the park when you find one of the 10 marker points along the way and scan the QR codes.

If you enjoy this trail you can come back another season and discover fascinating facts about the wildlife to be found in seasons all year round.

We have 4 trails for you to enjoy:
  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

Download a map of the park

Find out more about Colchester Boma, a project helping to make the countryside accessible for everyone.

Wildlife of High Woods - map of the park

There are three circular trails identified by coloured way markers. 

The blue route: is the shortest (30 mins) and takes you along the woodland edge with glimpses of the lake.

It's a level route except for a steep dip and gradual slope near the ‘Fiveways Junction’ as labelled on the park map. All paths have a bound surface but in winter some sections can be wet and muddy. 

The red route: (90 mins) takes you through bluebell woods and fields to the park's northern end. There are some gradual slopes, a mixture of bound surface and natural paths. In winter sections are wet and muddy. 

The yellow route: (120 mins) takes you through wildflower fields with great views, and by the lake. 

There are steep slopes on Woodcock Down and around the lake, a mixture of surfaced and natural paths. You can join the red route at Fiveways to extend your walk. In winter sections are wet and muddy. 

Permanent orienteering trails: There are three orienteering courses of differing lengths and degrees of difficulty including beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Developed with the Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS). Orienteering maps available to purchase from the visitor centre. 

Wildlife Trail: A 1-mile nature trail with accompanying app for families.

Comprises a wildlife quiz and ten QR code marker points along a circular route through the park allowing you to learn all about the seasonal wildlife highlights found in the park. Available to download free from the app store - search High Woods Country Park Wildlife Trail. 

Nature Tracing Trail: A children's fun trail, search for all 10 images of park wildlife and take rubbings of them. A booklet and crayons are available to purchase from the visitor centre.  

Page last reviewed: 28 May 2024