Location Guide - Essex
With a wonderful blend of old and new, Essex is a county of contrasts, combining 350 miles of coastline, areas of natural beauty, a variety of historical buildings and vibrant towns full of culture.
Essex has one of the longest shorelines of any county in England. Perfect for experiencing big skies and stunning sunsets, the mixture of saltmarshes, tidal inlets and estuaries provide habitats for a diverse range of wildlife, too. If you’re spending a lot of time in Essex, then a trip to Mersea Island is a must – and comes with a feel of adventure. You approach the most easterly inhabited island in England via a causeway from the mainland. The causeway often floods at high tide times, cutting the island off from the mainland. The island is just eight miles square; it takes around five hours to walk around its perimeter, so very easy to explore.
The Essex-Suffolk border, known as Constable Country, is popular with artists and tourists alike. The artist, John Constable, was born in Suffolk and is well-known for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale (now designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows and woodland make up the landscape of Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley. A network of ancient lanes is also a major part of this landscape. If you head off the beaten track on foot or by bike you can fully appreciate this area’s unique beauty. There are many circular and linear walks throughout Dedham Vale, offering every opportunity to get back to nature, slow down and enjoy the gentle, relaxing pace.
If you decide to make Essex your park home or holiday home base, you will find there is much to enjoy.
The River Stour at Dedham. Image: VisitEssex
Whether it’s a day at the coast you’re after, amusements and fairground rides, or to relax in pretty gardens by the seafront, Clacton has it all.
Boasting the longest pier in the world that stretches out to sea for 1.34 miles, and even has a railway to run visitors from one end to the other, Southend is a traditional resort.
Accessed from the mainland via a tidal causeway, Mersea Island offers sandy beaches, fresh seafood, watersports galore, a country park, historical sites, and even a vineyard.
Featuring in Constable’s Hay Wain, this eighteenth century mill lies in the heart of Dedham Vale.
Home to the third longest pier in England, Walton-on-the-Naze is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The Naze itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, famed for the many fossils to be found in the red crag cliffs.
Audley End House & Gardens
A Victorian country house with Capability Brown-designed gardens, this is a delightful place for many visits. Its designer, actually called Lancelot Brown but nicknamed Capability, transformed more than 250 gardens and parklands in the 1700s.
Walking the many pretty footpaths of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you will see why Constable was inspired to paint it.
This is a nature reserve of marshland, lagoons, ditches and sea. You can walk the sea walls – and keep an eye out for seals. The island is linked by ferry to Burnham-on-Crouch.