Green spaces, parks and encounters with nature on our daily walks have been a lifeline during lockdown and as restrictions start to lift, most of us are looking forward to even more freedom to meet up outdoors. If everything goes to plan, the rule of six (or two different households) will apply outside from 29 March, giving us all more opportunities to spend time with the people we care about.
During this phase, we’ll still be expected to minimise travel but if you’re getting fed up with your usual routes, don’t despair. There are plenty of places in and around Chelmsford you probably haven’t discovered yet. These five green spaces are sure to give you an inspiring fix of the great outdoors this spring.
Admirals Park and Tower Gardens
The formal gardens in Admirals Park in central Chelmsford look lovely at this time of year. The flower beds bring wonderful colours to a stroll through the city and it’s a real haven for wildlife. The park is part of the river corridor of the River Can which provides an important route for lots of different species to travel around the city. Kingfishers, Woodpeckers and even Tree Creepers can be seen in this surprisingly varied landscape.
If you like your green spaces a little wilder, then Frankland Fields near South Woodham Ferrers could be the spot for you. The open grassland has pockets of woodland which run down to Fen Creek, where you can take in views of the River Crouch and watch bird populations throughout the year. Keep an eye out for Fieldfares in during the spring months and if you’re lucky you might spot a Buzzard or Short Eared Owl along the river.
Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve
For a longer walk head to the Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve on the Eastern Banks of the River Chelmer. The reserve runs right from Victoria Road in the heart of the city up to Valley Bridge, covering over 17 hectares with incredibly diverse habitats. Look out for Stable Field Meadow, which has a vibrant mix of wildflowers and grasses and supports insects, birds and even reptiles like Slow Worms and Common Lizards.
Marconi Ponds Local Nature Reserve
Don’t forget about Marconi Ponds – another beautiful wooded area closer to the city centre. Although the ponds themselves are fenced off unless there is a practical volunteer session, the site is always open and it’s a key place for urban wildlife including foxes, deer and other small mammals. The larger of the two ponds is mostly open water, which is great for birds, frogs and bats. Dragonfly larvae emerge from the water during the spring as the weather gets warmer.
Galleywood Common is a wonderful place to spot seasonal changes, with a range of different habitats from woodland to ponds. The nature reserve, which was originally an ancient forest, covers 47 hectares and it attracts walkers, cyclists and riders whatever the weather. Local birdwatchers report sightings of Yellowhammers throughout the year and Spotted Flycatchers arrive in late spring.
Find more green places to visit in Chelmsford on the Love Your Chelmsford website.