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Places to Go:   
Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park
(Southend Association of Voluntary Services)
“A Walk on the Wild Side”
Cherry Orchard Country Park (August 2012)

We were going to shorten the name to just Cherry Orchard Park because the full name is rather a mouthful, but on reflection the word ‘Country’ must be included - and you’ll see why soon.

We’ve been meaning to do this article for almost a year but health, poor weather and just a busy life has prevented it before now - sorry!

Dictionary Definitions:  Park - Large enclosed piece of ground usually with woodland and pasture attached to country house etc. / Enclosure in town ornamentally laid out for public recreation / Large tract of land kept in natural state for public benefit.”
If you are a resident of Rochford or Ashingdon (for whom this magazine is set up) you may be one of those many people who I’ve talked to who have have replied, “What park?”  This is for you. A mile out of Rochford, down Hall Road and then Cherry Orchard Lane (so it’s a bit far for many to walk) you’ll find this opening on the right hand side of Cherry Orchard Lane, about half way down and a car park.  Put aside any ideas about an ornamental park, this is the third definition above. If you are not a dog walker or a wild-life enthusiast, we may have to educate you a little. It’s a piece of wild country that on a sunny day is really worth a walk around. We did it on a sunny, going cloudy, going sunny, going.... well, you know what English weather is like!  
We started from the Car Park off Cherry Orchard Lane, looked at one of the two guidance boards and decided to wend our way to the right (looking up the ‘hill’) and find our way up to the Lake. The path we took is marked red here and then back via what we’ve shown as our blue route, a total of about 2½ miles (according to the map online) with very slight gradients and very easy walking. The tricky bit is that that the paths are rather indistinct and the next sign board is a long way up that path. If you look at the map below (from the board in the Car Park) the public path appears to stop and bend round behind Blatches Farm but in reality there is a clear and distinct path that continues straight on up until you eventually reach the lake. The simple guide is follow the stream that will be on your right the whole way up.  Coming back we cut across behind a small wooded area, across and up a large meadow and then down via a variety of paths (see below). For a variety of reasons, a very pleasant walk!
As we’ve already indicated, the paths vary from indistinct across the field areas, to much more clearly defined routes....
....and then sometimes less clearly defined routes but routes shown by gates... and a number of benches for rest....
....even some made up road, and eventually back down to the field paths (thank you to past walkers for wearing them down)
Remember this is a ‘park’ of the third description, so don’t expect neatness - this is a ‘wildlife’ park, a little wild at times....
....but watch for odds and ends of variety....
The lake is clearly the main feature of interest, now well established...
On the way down, in particular, we were pleasantly surprised by the views, varying from wide open to little glimpses...
....and enjoy what you can see (but you’ll need to be alert and look!)
...we saw a family of moorhens as well as lots of mallards happy to be fed, and you might even spot a heron.
...where familiar landscape features appear... and then you are surprised by the nearness of Eastwood over the brow on your right ...
Don’t be put off by the weather it will probably change... and being Rochford, something interesting will appear in the skies.
Coming back down to the Car Park there is a token provision for children (although we saw a number walking with families throughout our walk). Good to see!
So there it is, rough and ready as a ‘Country’ Park should be, but with a remarkable variety of sights and sounds - but remember it is a ‘wildlife’ park - so don’t expect playgrounds - but it is an excellent resource not far off our doorstep and well worth repeated visits - even if you don’t have a dog! See you there?