Chafford Gorges NP
163ac/66ha SSSI (part)
Grid ref: TQ 599 793 (click for o/s map)
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Chafford Gorges Nature Park lies at the heart of the Chafford Hundred housing development in Grays Thurrock, near the Lakeside Shopping Centre. It consists of former chalk quarries known as Warren Gorge, Lion Gorge and Grays Gorge, together with connecting land. In 2005 it was taken over as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust.
Warren Gorge is the largest gorge and can be viewed and accessed from Essex Wildlife Trust's visitor centre that overlooks it and from the cycle path that runs around most of its perimeter. It has chalky soil and as a result it has a great number of plants that like alkaline conditions, including kidney vetch, bladder campion and many orchids. It also has some sandy and gravelly areas and these support a large number of unusual insects. The large lakes, the woodland and the chalk cliffs provide habitats for a wide range of other animals, including great crested newts, bats (at least 5 species), kingfishers, great crested grebes and sand martins.
Accessed from the A1012 to Grays via Devonshire Road and Drake Road. The A1012 can be reached from the A13 east of M25 junction 30. SatNav: RM16 6RW.
Nearest train stations are Grays and Chafford Hundred with regular bus services from both: nearest bus stop is opposite medical centre on Drake Road. Half-hourly bus service from Upminster station to Grays: get off opposite the supermarket and follow the footpath round Warren Gorge to the visitor centre.
Nature park accessible at all times. Check the Essex Wildlife Trust website for centre opening times. The car park on Drake Road closes at 5 pm.
June or July wild flowers, including orchids; later in the summer for butterflies and dragonflies.
There are good surfaced paths in Warren Gorge and Lion Gorge but some steep inclines to negotiate.
Dogs on a lead in Lion Gorge please. All waste to be bagged and binned.
For more information contact the visitor centre on 01375 484016. Leaflets available at the centre.