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Visitors Centre

Hello and Welcome. High Woods Country Park is our home, the home of the Colchester Countryside Volunteer Ranger’s (CCVR), the Visitors Centre, High Woods Country Park, Turner Road, Colchester CO4 5JR is the full postal address. It is from here that we, the volunteers, start and end any of our task days, giving some of our free time to work, give advice and help keep the country park, and the other sites in and around Colchester in a tip top and tidy state, so it's always ready for you to enjoy.

The “Health Walk” volunteers do just that, walk, with volunteers at the beginning, middle and end of the participants. They start and end the walk at the Visitors Centre every other Friday morning, the start time is 11am, and takes about 25 minutes (Slightly more or less, depending on which route through the park is chosen) it's up to you whether you do one circuit or two, either way, at end of the walk there's a hot cup of tea or coffee waiting for you at the finish. There are a few minutes of warming up exercises before the walk gets underway. For those of you who like a longer walk, we have the Sunday Stroll, there is only one circuit on this and that too is every other week, this time, obviously, on a Sunday, with the same start time of 11am. We aim to make this walk about 3 miles long, so takes in more of the wonderful High Woods scenic parkland. There are usually less people on this, so we have just the leader and one person at the back. As with the Friday walks, there's a hot cup of tea or coffee waiting for you when you get back. Both of these walks are just that, a walk or stroll, neither are a race, you walk entirely at your own pace, the volunteer at the back stays at the back until everyone is safely back at the centre. For more details of dates please contact the visitors centre via the Contacts page, or pick up a High Woods leaflet next time you're at the centre.

The “Weekend" volunteers are split into 2 sections; one section spends their time in the visitors centre, giving their time cleaning, tidying, clearing, stocking and serving customers in the centre. The other section patrol around the grounds of High Woods Country Park or any of the other 16 sites that the volunteers help the full time rangers to look after, this also includes checking fishing licences, checking fences and gates (We sometimes have stock in various fields) and the dreaded litter picks. They will also do some conservation work if time allows.

The Monday “Conservation” group starts from here every Monday morning at around 10.00am along with the designated Countryside Team member that has been assigned to that Monday's task, then they to go out to whichever one of the sites they will be working on that day, tasks can involve anything from building new board walks, steps, bridges, fences or gates to pulling ragwort, pennywort, Japanese knotweed, coppicing and clearing the lake, ponds and streams. This work is carried out in all weathers, rain or shine; they turn out to work even when the park is covered in snow

Lastly, but by no means least there is the "Big Garden" volunteers, they meet frequently to do some gardening, there is always a lot to do, it's like your own garden but far larger, they have a large vegetable patch, which is planted with just about every vegetable you can think of, an orchard that is laden with Essex heritage fruit trees, and their own large poly tunnel for raising seeds. It's a "Special" garden for special people, but anyone is able to apply to be a volunteer, if you like gardening, but don't have your own garden, what could be better, volunteer, the one thing is, you won't be on your own. And even better, when the fruit and vegetables are ready for harvest, you get to take some home with you. For details of when they meet and at what times, either email Wayne Setford via the Contacts page or the Big Garden web site via the Links page.

We are always looking for more volunteers to join us in what we do; we are a friendly and diverse group of people, we are all ages, abilities, backgrounds and schooling. The one thing that we all have in common is that we like to help others and care a great deal about the countryside.
Before anyone can become a volunteer, no matter which branch you are interested in, you will need to fill in an application form and attend a short training session. Training days are held 2 or 3 times a year. Please see the links page for a link to obtaining an application form.

We hope that you will find this site interesting, giving you some idea about what it's like to be one of our volunteer rangers. Using information, links and photos we hope to be able to show you what we get up to, with some before and after projects. We have also included a few things to make at home, and show you what a couple of our "specialised" groups get up to outside of their normal volunteering days.