“We really enjoyed our walk around this well maintained and picturesque nature reserve. We had a fantastic walk along the beach with our dog, who enjoyed a splash about in the sea.” – Review from Trip Advisor
At the eastern end of Mersea Island, at Cudmore Grove you’ll find a sandy beach, impressive views, grassland, meadows for relaxation and walks that will take you past interesting historical sites and an abundance of wildlife.
The park is popular on hot summer days, with its sandy beach and cooling sea breeze. Winter brings wading birds and wildfowl, including flocks of brent geese.
The area is rich in historic features, including WWII pillboxes and gun emplacements, the remains of a 16th century blockhouse fort and a cliff that has produced 300,000-year-old fossils, such as monkey, bear and bison.
Because of restrictions on the road that leads to our car park, we cannot allow parking for towed vehicles or coaches, other than single-deck school visit coaches with permission.
All year round, 8am to dusk
Up to 30 minutes £1
Up to 1 hour £1.50
Up to 2 hours £2.50
Up to 3 hours £3.50
More than 3 hours £4
Season parking and more
Money from parking is used to maintain the park and protect its wildlife.
Cudmore Grove is a flat site with easy walking ground mostly accessible for wheelchair users. Several miles of walking paths circle and cross the site, including the Sea Wall walk, crossing the grasslands and along the sides of the grazing marshes.
A wildlife hide overlooks the pond where you can often see wildfowl, foxes and rabbits. The low-lying grazing meadow is managed as an Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) nature reserve attracting wading birds and ducks throughout the year.
Winter is the best season for birdwatching with sea-duck and grebes in the Colne estuary, up to 15 types of wader on the rich mudflats and maybe a glimpse of a hunting bird of prey like a peregrine or marsh harrier. On the grazing fields in winter, lots of wigeon and teal can be seen as well as large flocks of brent geese, while in the summer lapwings and avocet often breed.
Spring and autumn bring migrant birds such as warblers, wheatear and whinchat, maybe something rarer. Grass left long throughout the year attracts small mammals, skylarks, lizards and insects while kestrels and barn owls hunt over these areas.
On summer days up to 15 types of butterfly can be seen in a day feeding on the meadows and hedgerows.
Find out more about the flora and fauna of Cudmore Grove on our ranger’s blog, Mersea Wildlife.
Cudmore Grove has several features of ancient and more recent historic importance. Walks along the sea wall pass the remains of a 16th century blockhouse fort and a cliff of exposed 300,000-year-old fossils.
Part of a golf course between the wars, Cudmore Grove became a defence site during WWII. Visitors can follow the WWII heritage trail to learn more about the wartime structures visible in the park, including several pillboxes and gun emplacements.
After WWII, the land was farmed until purchased by Essex County Council in 1974 as a site for recreation, and historic and conservation importance.
The foot ferry between Brightlingsea, Point Clear and East Mersea provides easy access for local people and visitors from early April to end of October. The boat’s ramp can be lowered for wheelchair users and cyclists. The crossing to Brightlingsea takes around 9 minutes.
See Brightlingsea Harbour for foot ferry sailing and fares.
There are designated routes for cyclists and horse riders marked on the Map of Cudmore Grove - PDF, 108KB. Routes also allow horses access to the beach. Cyclists are welcome to stray from the designated routes on the park with care for other users.
Please note that the lane that gives access to the carpark is not suitable for towed horse boxes, however, horses can be brought to the car park in lorry-style horse boxes.
We’re always looking for volunteers to undertake tasks alongside the rangers, such as clearing litter from the beach, trimming branches, repairing fences and maintaining signs.
It's a great opportunity to learn about conservation, develop skills and make a difference to the park.
We also welcome young people volunteering as part of school work experience and Duke of Edinburgh award.
You can volunteer during the week or at weekends, depending on what suits you. Please wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work - we’ll give full training and provide equipment. Call 01206 383868 to talk about volunteering options.
You’ll find public toilets at the car park, including disabled and baby changing facilities.
Open Saturday and Sunday year round from noon until 4pm winter or 5pm summer, the refreshment kiosk offers light refreshment such as coffee, tea, cold drinks, ice cream, crisps and sweets.
The information room is open daily. Here you’ll find boards where you can read about the history of the park, such as fossil bones, coastal erosion, and wartime history, and a selection of leaflets for local events and attractions.
Our outdoor learning team runs curriculum-linked activity days across all Essex’s country parks, designed to release children’s imagination and encourage their creativity. Find out more about educational activities at the park.
We offer a range of birthday parties from den-building to scavenger hunts along the beach. To book your bespoke birthday party please call us on 01206 383868.