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Wat Tyler Country Park

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Wat Tyler Country Park
Author: Claire, Published: 13 Feb 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Essex, Basildon
Walk Type: Garden or park
Wat Tyler Country Park
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 1.5 mile circular easy access walk around Wat Tyler Country Park near Basildon in Essex. Once a Victorian and Edwardian explosives factory, today the site is 125 acres of diverse habitats including meadows, hedgerows, blast mounds, tidal waterways, reed beds and marshes. This short, easy access trail takes in a number of the key features including the wildlife garden, bird hides, viewing platform, miniature railway, marina and sculptures, but there are plenty of other quieter paths should you wish to extend the walk.

The park is open daily 9am to 5pm (Nov-Mar) and 9am to 6pm (Apr-Oct). The walk is generally flat with only a few gentle slopes. The majority of the paths are compacted stone, tarmac or boardwalks, with a couple of sections of grass paths that are generally firm but can get muddy after periods of rain. There are a couple of flights of steps, but these can easily be avoided meaning that the walk would be suitable for rugged pushchairs and disability buggies in the drier months. There are toilets and a cafe within the visitor centre at the start of the walk. Allow 1 hour.

Wat Tyler Country Park is located just south of the A13, near Pitsea in Essex. If you are coming by car, leave the A13 at the Pitsea exit and head south on Pitsea Hall Lane. Continue over the mini-roundabout and pass Pitsea rail station. The post code SS16 4UH will take you to this point. From the station, continue south and at the Y-junction, take the right-hand branch through the park entrance. Follow the access lane through the park (passing the Green Centre) all the way down to the RSPB visitor centre and main visitor centre, the Wat Tyler Centre. Park in the free car park alongside this. If you are coming by bus or train, alight at Pitsea rail station and walk south along the lane for about 1 mile to reach the Wat Tyler Centre where the walk begins.

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Walk Sections

Start to Psychedelic Benches
Start to Psychedelic Benches

Start point: 51.5483 lat, 0.5054 long
End point: 51.5504 lat, 0.5048 long

Begin the walk in the main car park, standing with your back to the main entrance for the Wat Tyler Centre, visitor centre and cafe. Turn right along the paved walkway, with the car park to your left. Pass the RSPB visitor centre on your right (well worth a visit) and walk ahead into the RSPB Wildlife Garden. Go straight on, following the line of the fence on your right.

Stay with the main stone path winding through the garden, passing the raised sleeper beds on your right. (You can take time to explore each section of the garden should you wish). You will emerge through a wooden gate to reach an open grass clearing. Follow the line of the dense hedgerow on your right, walk up the flight of steps ahead and you will reach the first sculpture, a collection of small colourful people. Pass through these and exit via the steps at the far side. (NOTE: If you need to avoid the steps, simply pass along the left-hand edge of the embankment which houses the steps). Keep ahead to reach a set of three psychedelic benches on your left.

Psychedelic Benches to Kestrel Hide
Psychedelic Benches to Kestrel Hide

Start point: 51.5504 lat, 0.5048 long
End point: 51.5507 lat, 0.5004 long

Bear slightly right at this point, to join the main grass avenue leading you between two square embankments of trees (the remnants of old industrial buildings – more about that later). At the end of the grass clearing, join the surfaced footpath which begins ahead. The path leads you past a pond on your left and on between hedgerows.

At the junction, with the miniature railway line visible to your right, fork left and continue on the wide surfaced path. The path leads you past a number of information boards which explain some of the industrial history of the site. As early as 3500BC people lived and worked on the land here, soon developing a thriving economy of grazing, salt production, fishing and shellfish. In the 1800s, a factory was established on this site to manufacture nitro glycerine explosives. In the 1920s the Nobel Explosives Company (owned by Alfred Nobel of Nobel Prize fame) took over the site, converting it to process dynamite, a much safer explosive patented by Nobel. Whilst few of the actual buildings remain, the extensive earthworks are a sign of the scale of the blast protection banks. After a period in the hands of the MoD, the site was opened as a public park in the 1980s.

Further along the path leads you past a large fenced pasture on your left, containing more blast embankment remains. Just after this pasture, look for a gap in the hedgerow on your right. This leads you to the Kestrel Hide.

Kestrel Hide to Central Crossroads
Kestrel Hide to Central Crossroads

Start point: 51.5507 lat, 0.5004 long
End point: 51.5486 lat, 0.5014 long

The Kestrel Hide is a great place to pause and enjoy some bird watching over the tidal Timberman’s Creek. When the tide is low, you are likely to see lots of wading birds digging into the mud banks and feasting on the worms and shellfish. Barn owls are also a fairly common sight here.

When you have finished bird spotting, return back to the main path and turn right to continue your journey. Further along you will pass a second hide, this time overlooking a section of reed bed at the edge of the creek. Listen for the call of warblers. Again, return to the main path and turn right along this.

About 100 metres after the second hide, you will come to a junction with a large signpost. Turn left here, signed to the Village Green. Follow this wide grass ride gently uphill. Continue up to the top of the slope where you will find the crossroads at the centre of the park, marked with another large signpost.

Central Crossroads to Washing Bowl
Central Crossroads to Washing Bowl

Start point: 51.5486 lat, 0.5014 long
End point: 51.5453 lat, 0.5023 long

Turn right to join another wide grass ride signed towards the Marina. Take time to enjoy the views which have opened up ahead and to your right. On a clear day these stretch for miles. On your right you will pass a large metal sculpture of a woodlouse. Soon afterwards on your left you will come to an old World War II brick pillbox. This has been converted with a set of steps to make an excellent viewing platform.

Wat Tyler Country Park is named after the most famous leader of the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381. The revolt was begun by the men of Fobbing, which is just a stone’s throw from the park itself.

Just beyond the pillbox, pass another set of psychedelic benches and take the right-hand branch at the fork. Follow the path down the short slope to reach a T-junction with the main surfaced path. Turn left along this, still signed for the Marina. When the stone footpath ends, continue ahead on the access track which leads you through the marina. On your right, beside a bench, you will find the old concrete Washing Bowl. This would have been lined with bronze and used to wash and drain guncotton as part of the old explosives industry.

Washing Bowl to End
Washing Bowl to End

Start point: 51.5453 lat, 0.5023 long
End point: 51.5484 lat, 0.5053 long

Continue beyond the washing bowl, heading for the pylon ahead, passing a car park on your left. Enter the grass area in front of the pylon. On the left you will see the terminus for the miniature railway, which runs in the spring and summer months. Just after this you will see another pillbox, topped with an ornate compass. This makes another good viewing point, to enjoy the views along the creek and the marina activity.

When you have finished here, retrace your steps back past the parking area on your right. Immediately afterwards, turn right onto the roadside footpath signed to the Wat Tyler Centre. Just beyond the car park (and before a garage block) bear left and then right to join the stone path leading you past a large pond on your left. At the next junction go straight ahead to join a section of boardwalk, leading you through a wildlife and insect garden.

Pass the tall wooden figurine sculptures on your left and continue on the second section of boardwalk. Continue past the eco toilet block on your right, with its green roof and bug houses, and keep ahead on the tarmac path leading you towards the visitor centre now visible ahead. Follow the paths winding through the village green with its beautiful collection of thatched buildings. These listed buildings were all rescued from other locations in Essex where they were threatened with demolition as part of large construction projects, such as Stanstead Airport. They were dismantled and reassembled on this site.

Just beyond the village green you will come to the visitor centre and main car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 gallery images for "Wat Tyler Country Park"

5522_0Richard1455384238 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 13 Feb 2016
Bobbie enjoyed visiting the viewing point on top of the WWII pill box....
5522_1Richard1455384238 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: RichardJ
Uploaded: 13 Feb 2016
The park has some great sculptures. Not sure that we saw them all..


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