Plan your visit Things to see & do The Woodland Walks Venture outside the deer fence of the Arboretum at Marks Hall Estate and discover inspiring landscape to enjoy. There are three circular walks to explore at Marks Hall Estate that take in our vast woodlands, ranging in length from half a mile to two and a half miles. All paths are colour coded and way marked, and all start from the Visitor Centre. Our woodlands are carefully and sensitively managed by our team using traditional techniques. These encourage diversity, provide varied habitats for native wildlife, and prolong the lives of our tree collection. Marks Hall Estate is home to around 25% of the region's small-leaved lime trees, Tilia cordata. Dog walkers and cyclists are also welcome to explore the Woodland Walks, normal admission charges apply. We do not permit cycling within the Arboretum. The Old Deer Park Walk – Red markers (2.5 miles) On this popular route you will be travelling with evidence of the Estate’s history all about you. The path is mostly hard roads, laid down for access during the wartime occupation. Once busy with jeeps and bustling with U.S. airmen they take the walker past the remnants of the deer park boundary still lined with its veteran oaks on the park bank, and home to a vast array of wildlife. The park once held a large herd of fallow deer kept in by a wooden paling fence. The new deer fence now serves the opposite purpose, keeping deer out in order to protect the ornamental plantings in the Arboretum. The avenue is where carriages would have been driven on their way to the original Hall. It is in this area that there is the best chance of seeing the Silver Washed Fritillary. This strikingly beautiful butterfly disappeared from Essex in the 1950s but has recently been reintroduced by the Trust as part of an extensive conservation programme. They are on the wing in July and August and are often seen under the avenue trees. Bench Meadow Wood Walk – Yellow markers (3/4 mile) The path up the sloping grass field, called Bench meadow, offers some of the nicest views over the Estate and a landscape that has changed little in hundreds of years. Sitting on the ridge is Marygolds, the old Estate dower house with its Gothic style windows and tall chimneys. Slightly to the left of this you can see the lakes, Coach House and other Estate buildings in front of which once stood Marks Hall. In the war years, Bench Meadow was covered with nissen huts to provide homes for the thousands of airmen stationed here whilst serving at Earls Colne Airfield. Today, few signs of all this wartime activity remain, most notably the concrete road that leads you back towards the Visitor Centre and some air raid shelters which are now converted to bat huts. Crowlands Wood Walk – Blue markers (2 miles) This walk follows the same route as Bench Meadow walk for the first ½ mile. It then continues through and around Crowlands Wood, one of our most ancient woodlands. These woodlands are managed as traditional coppice with standards. Coppicing involves cutting the underwood or ‘spring’ repeatedly every 20 years or so making them very valuable for wildlife. Whatever time of year you walk this route you will stand a good chance of seeing some resident fallow deer that make these woods their home. On misty days their grunting during the rut echoes through the woods. In spring time there is a carpet of bluebells and nightingales and other spring migrants can be heard.