Things to See on Essex Road Trip, an Hour from London


Essex’s sole redeeming virtue is its closeness to London. Its castles, elegant houses, and Tudor palaces are long and affluent past. The Romans ruled Colchester, England’s oldest town. Cressing has antique barns, including the world’s oldest.

Only Cornwall’s coastline is longer than Essex’s. Yet unlike England’s tourist highlights, its large sandy beaches and desolate salt marshes are still crowd-free off the main path. It is the UK’s driest and sunniest region. The issue is when to come an hour from London; here’s what to see in Essex.


What’s The Finest Essex to Visit?



Visit the lovely Stour Valley on foot or by boat.


After centuries, John Constable’s paintings of Dedham Vale are still recognizable. The Area of Outstanding National Beauty crosses the Essex border; however, Willy Lott’s Cottage and Flatford Mill are on the Suffolk side. Exploring by boat or foot is easy.

Dedham a riverside community with a 15th-century church. The 500-year-old Essex Rose Tea House is owned by local jam manufacturers Wilkin & Son. A branch of the renowned Tiptree company.



Take the train and visit the world’s longest leisure pier.


The world’s longest leisure pier is Southend Pier. The round-trip travel is almost 3 kilometers from the road. Luckily, a train has traveled back and forth for years, making the travel to the end of the pier easier. Yet, people still stroll this windy structure, passing fishermen hoping for a catch.

The fire-prone pier has had multiple fires in its 190-year existence. In 1986, the waste disposal tanker MV Kingsabbey beheaded it in heavy weather. At each setback, this beloved monument emerges like a phoenix. Historic sailing ships sometimes anchor while leisure excursions leave the Pier Head in Essex.



Join a 2000-year-old tradition of enjoying eating oysters by the water.


Oyster farming is longstanding on Mersea Island, Essex. Romans quipped that the bivalves were Britain’s only nice thing. To taste them at the modest but famous Company Shed. People still risk the tide on the Strait, the island’s sole road.

Fresh oysters are available year-round, but the Colchester native oyster season starts in September. Their saltier taste and more robust flavor come from coastal mudflats.



Experience history in front of the 14th-century Guildhall.


The High Street’s timbered 14th-century Guildhall is Thaxted’s most renowned historic structure in Essex. It survived a devastating fire that the Guild of Cutlers built. In 1340, the beautiful parish church of John the Baptist with Our Lady and St. Laurence was built on Watling Street.

Look for Gustav Holst’s blue house down the hill with a plaque. Dick Turpin, a legendary highwayman, is memorialized at Stoney Lane. The rebuilt John Webb windmill is a short walk away in this rich UK region.



The county’s largest towns are far from the sea on the eastern point of the Dengie Peninsula.


Yet hikers keep coming to this beachfront place. They go to St. Peter-on-the-Chapel-Wall’s on the farm way. After sailing from Lindisfarne, St. Cedd constructed this modest stone church in 653 AD.

Throughout the week, St. Peter-on-the-Wall is open for meditation and prayer. Summer services and weddings are held there. Othona, formerly a Roman fort, is today a Christian village. The world’s oldest wood church, Greensted Church, is 40 miles away in Epping.



One of Europe’s top wetland sites.


One of Essex’s three reservoirs, Abberton. It has the 4th-largest surface area in England and Wales at 4.9 square kilometers. Birdwatchers enjoy their range of native and migratory birds. Including cormorants, lapwings, black-tailed godwits, and great crested grebes. Drive to RSPB Old Hall Marshes.

During World War II, the RAF 617 Squadron trained for the Dambuster attacks at Abberton Reservoir. Operation Chastise was prepared at night on the Layer Causeway. Which replaced the dam. MOD mined the reservoir, which was a target. Controlled detonations on the final few took place in the 1980s, clearing the site.



The romantic ruins of a royal castle overlooking the Essex marshes.


Essex’s southernmost palace is Hadleigh Castle. It’s in ruins, but it remains to imagine its original appearance. During the Hundred Years’ War, the 13th-century stronghold was active. Picnic on the ruins’ meadows and enjoy Thames views.

Cross-country cycling at the 2012 Olympics is inland. The circuit is now available to the public, so hire a mountain bike and test your skills. Detour Deane’s Drop and The Leap of Faith only if you’re an experienced rider on the 5-km course.



The village, which has an antique centre, a guest house, and two tea shops, straddles the River Crouch.


Battlesbridge’s antiques are known outside Essex. A waterside granary barn is housed in the center. Across four levels, it overlooked the River Crouch and was a Victorian. Add to the riverfront quay, where ships unloaded coal and filled it with hay and wheat.

In many of the old buildings in this village, antique dealers sell cut glass and used furniture. Lunch options include The Hawk, The Barge, and the antique center’s top-floor café. The Bataille family, who owned much of the land, gave the village its name.



Discover the town’s historic maritime history.


Harwich’s long affinity with the water was a coincidence. The storm surge1100s created a deep harbor and a boat-building tradition. In 1620, the Mayflower, a famous ship built here, sailed to the US. The vessel is recorded as Harwich in the Port Records of 1609–11.

The Lifeboat Museum in Harwich attracts maritime enthusiasts. The floating pirate radio museum, the LV-18 Lightship, is docked at Ha’Penny Pier. The 1667 Treadwheel Crane was close, where workers walked with two enormous wheels to lift and lower cargo. It’s the UK’s only one.



From sandy beaches and bustling resorts to historic towns and picturesque villages.


The Sunshine Coast, in the north of Essex, has some of the broadest different sand beaches. Clacton contrasts with Frinton and Holland-on-Sea. Jaywick’s beach, with its low grassy dunes, is the nicest. The best all-rounder is Walton-on-the-Naze. An art gallery and café are within the Hanoverian Naze Tower, a local attraction.

Seal-watching tours frequently stop by Walton’s backwaters, home to common grey seals. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome’s children’s book, was set there.


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