Hiking in Hockley Woods & A Brief History of Our Local Woodlands Hayley Reeve September 5, 2017 Landmarks & Attractions, Southend Hockley Woods, located in Hockley (Southend) in Essex, is the largest remaining area of woodland in eastern England, since the last ice age, at over 250 acres. The woods is also a local nature reserve and an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and is owned by Rochford Council. The History of Hockley Woods The woodland has existed here since the last Ice Age. Hockley Woods survives as it is today due to coppicing, a traditional method of woodland management. Extending the life of the existing trees by encouraging new growth from the stumps or roots when cut down. The wood is then made into gates, bridges, fencing and firewood, as well as many other uses. It is because Hockley Woods has been managed as a valuable resource this way, that they have survived over 10,000 years. In the 17th century, they were actually a group of woods, each with a separate owner, divided by earth banks. For instance Hawkwell Wood was owned by the Earl of Warwick, whilst Beaches Wood belonged to Beaches Manor, Rawreth. Many of the plants found at Hockley Woods will only grow in the undisturbed soils of the ancient woods. You can find all of this information and more, including highlights of a number of ecologically important sites and interesting walks, in this PDF leaflet. Testing New Hi-Tec Hiking Boots at Hockley Woods With my daughter about to go away to University, we wanted to spend some quality time together, away from the stress of everyday life and the woods seemed the perfect place to do this. Hearing about this idea, a local company that sells workwear in Southend, called Work & Wear Direct Ltd, kindly donated two pairs of Hi-Tec boots for our day out at Hockley Woods. Part of the new Hi-Tec Autumn/Winter outdoor clothing range, these Hi-Tec hiking boots are waterproof, comfortable and are highly supportive around the ankle! The boots were the perfect gift for our day at Hockley Woods! We chose to do the “Boundry Walk” which is quite a long walk at 5km, but it meant we had plenty of time to talk about life, hopes and dreams all whilst putting our new boots to the test. The Boundry Walk, which is rather self-explanatory, follows the edge of woods and links to public footpaths leading to Hockley, Hawkwell and Rayleigh. We followed the peaceful walking trail through the mixed woodland, taking in the oak and sweet chestnut trees, stopping only briefly for something to eat and to recharge our batteries. Hockley Woods is also host to a number of local events, including everything from the Hockley Woods Parkrun to an outdoor cinema! Having visited Hockley Woods several times over the years, in my experience, it is the perfect place for a day out in Southend – with family or friends, if you’re on a budget, or even if you just want to spend some quality time together!