High Woods Country Park
Grid ref: TL 998 271 (click for o/s map)
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High Woods Country Park occupies land that was once part of the Royal Forest of Kingswood. Today it is a patchwork of woods, meadows, marsh and rough ground.
The woods in the stream valley to the north, known as the Central Valley, are a remnant of Kingswood Forest and are being coppiced. The valley floor is mainly ash and alder, with small-leaved lime and oak on the slopes. In April it is carpeted with bluebells.
The mosaic of trees, scrub and open grassland in the eastern section suits a variety of nesting birds, including willow warbler, whitethroat and goldfinch. In autumn it is full of berries and wild fruit.
Friars Grove is a small ancient valley wood, surrounded by its original earth bank and ditch.
A large area of marshland has developed around the stream before it passes under the railway and this provides cover for birds such as sedge warblers and reed buntings. In summer the many insects overhead attract crowds of swifts, swallows and martins and, on warm nights, bats.
The main entrance is off Turner Road, which leaves the A134 Colchester–Sudbury road north of Colchester North station. SatNav: CO4 5JR.
A footpath leads into the country park starting just south of the railway bridge over the A134, right next to Colchester North station (Liverpool St line).
Car parks open from 7 am to 10 pm in summer, and to 7 pm in winter. Visitor Centre open daily from April to September inclusive, otherwise weekends only.
April for bluebells; May/June for breeding birds in woodland and scrub; summer for wild flowers in meadow and marsh and for flying insects.
For more information telephone the Rangers on 01206 853588.