Review - Visiting Hockley Woods With Children

Hockley Woods is a beautiful ancient woodland in Rochford, Essex with lots of different trails to follow and wildlife to spot. There is over 130 hectares of woodland to explore. You can spend ages strolling through the wood; making camps, playing hide and seek, seeing what wildlife you can find and finding lovely bridges and streams for paddling in. Once you have explored the woods there is plenty of fun to be had in the large playground using all the different play equipment. 

Play area at Hockley Woods, Rochford Essex
At Hockley Woods there is plenty of woodland to explore and a large playground

Visiting Hockley Woods, Essex

Why Is Hockley Woods A Good Place To Visit With Children?

  • There are large buggy friendly paths.
  • There is a good playground which is gated to stop children running off.
  • There are mountain bike trails so a good place for confident cyclists.
  • There are wooden carvings to spot around the woodland and occasional fairy houses.

A view through woodland at Hockley Woods with a small bridge and coppiced trees
Coppicing has ensured the preservation of the ancient woodland

What Is There To Do At Hockley Woods?

It’s a lovely place to explore in every season. In the winter the ‘12 days of Christmas’ trail has been set up by a local family. You have to spot the wooden boards which have been beautifully painted with all the verses of the song. The spring brings the bluebells out which look amazing covering the woodland floor. Summer is great for spotting wildlife, there are always lots of amazing butterflies to see. There are also wooden carvings around the wood for the children to find. We have found the owl, badger and fox so far. Occasionally you can even find a rope swing and recently we have even spotted some little fairy houses that have been springing up at the main clearing in the woods. 

The playground is spacious and well equipped. It has climbing frames and a sand pit area for children from toddler age plus. My 11 year old still loves visiting and using the zip wire, fireman’s pole and larger climbing frames.

A different view of the playground with lots of play equipment
The playground is spacious with lots of play equipment

What age children will enjoy Hockley Woods ?

All ages can enjoy the woods. There is plenty to explore and an easy path to walk on. For older children you can go off trail to make the walk longer and spend time making camps. 

The playground is excellent for covering all age ranges so you can take all the children and know they will all have something to play on.

You can cycle through the woods but to use the mountain bike trails I would suggest it’s for children age 10+ (unless they are a very competent rider from a young age) as these can include jumps and steep hills to get over. 

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

You can use a buggy/pushchair on the main track but be aware that it is hilly and can get muddy in winter. The (small) picnic area and playground is flat so easy for pushchairs to get around. During the wet, winter months the woods can get muddy making it trickier to navigate with a buggy on some of the paths.

A main path at Hockley Woods
There is plenty to explore at Hockley Woods

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Hockley Woods

  • Entry is free.
  • There is no permanent food/ drink on site.
  • It is owned and managed by Rochford District Council
  • Gates open at 7am and close at 6.30pm.


There are public toilets available which are regularly cleaned and stocked with toilet roll and hand soap. There is a baby change pull down unit at these toilets. 

There is also a disabled toilet which is available to use if you have a radar key.

Is it dog friendly?

The woods are definitely dog friendly and dogs can be off lead and are welcome all year round.


There is no food or drink available so pack a water bottle and snacks or a picnic. The nearest cafe and pub are a short walk away though.

What To Take With You

  • Food and drink
  • Welly boots are essential for winter months, but useful all year round incase children fancy a paddle in a stream. 

Woodland floor covered in a carpet of bluebells in Hockley Woods
Bluebells in Hockley Woods

Getting to Hockley Woods

Address: Main Road, Hockley, Essex SS5 4RN

Hockley Woods is easy to find. It’s on the main road and signposted. Keep an eye out for ‘The Bull’ pub as the turning is right next to it. 

Parking at Hockley Woods

There is a tarmac car park which is free on weekends and bank holidays. Payment is from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Up to 1 hour is 30p, up to 2 hours is 50p, up to 3 hours is 70p, up to 4 hours is £1.50 or all day for £3. You can pay by cash or paybyphone.

A fairy house on a tree stump at Hockley Woods
There are often trails and sculptures which appear to have been placed by locals

What Is There Nearby Hockley Woods?

  • Hockley Woods links to Gusted Woods and you can even keep walking all the way to Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park if you want to have a day of walking. 
  • There is a lovely pub next to the Hockley Woods car park called ‘The Bull’ which is child friendly but dogs can only be outside. It has a big garden with lots of tables and an outside bar in Summer. 
  • Hockley village is only a 5 minute walk from the woods car park and has a Costa as well as other independent eateries such as Neal’s Bar and Ronnie’s.
  • It's about a half hour drive to Southend where you can visit Central Museum and Planetarium, Southend Pier with Adventure Island, Sealife Adventure Zooquarium and other activities.
  • 20 minutes drive from Hadleigh Castle.
  • 15 minutes drive from Base Jump trampoline park
  • 20 minutes drive from Rollacity (indoor roller skating rink).

Photographs and recommendation made by Charlotte who is on Instagram as @the_wolf_mother_project

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