Brought to you by


24 of the best walks in Essex that you should take in 2024

Turpin's Trail
Turpin's Trail

Explore the stunning countryside on your doorstep with our compilation of the best rambles for the year ahead.

 

The Wivenhoe Trial

Starting at Wivenhoe train station, the 2.5 mile walk to the historic city of Colchester is a delightful stroll along the Colne Estuary. Wivenhoe itself is a quaint, bohemian estuary town that is well worth looking round for its independent shops before heading off along the Colne. The estuary is part of a nature reserve and is a great place to spot wildfowl on its salty marshes. The walk also takes in woodland and goes past the University of Essex. You can end your walk at Colchester Hythe station or follow the route a little further into Colchester’s Castle Park.

Burnham on Crouch Circular Walk

The Burnham on Crouch Circular Walk is family friendly, great for all abilities. Along this trail, you will be able to enjoy the many different landscapes of this coastal Essex town, from the local parkland to the boats inhabiting the marina, to the open countryside - you’ll also pass a WW1 airfield. If you’re a wildlife fanatic, then be sure to bring your binoculars and camera, as grassland birds can be spotted within the countryside sections of this walk, as well as waders, gulls, ducks and even little egrets by the water. This Essex walk starts and finishes at Burnham Railway Station, making it easily accessible by rail.

Around Althorne

If you’re looking for an easy to moderate walk with stunning riverside views, then the pleasant five-mile walk around the village of Althorne is definitely one to add to your list. After walking along the River Crouch, you’ll find yourself rambling through fields and then across the railway line, before exploring the beautiful countryside, pubs, and landmarks. We recommend making a stop at The Three Horseshoes public house on Burnham Road for a quick drink or a spot of lunch.

Great British Life: Chappel to BuresChappel to Bures

Chappel to Bures

Explore the rolling countryside bordering the western flank of the Stour Valley offering sweeping views of the stunning landscape favoured by both Gainsborough and Constable. This four-mile walk includes varied terrain and some slopes, making it suitable for intermediate walkers. Devised by Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, this route is easily accessible via train at both Chappel and Bures stations. Whilst you’re there make sure you visit the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel Station.

Great British Life: Wrabness Circular WalkWrabness Circular Walk

Wrabness Circular Walk

Perfect for a peaceful family dog walk, the Wrabness Circular Walk is approximately two miles long and includes outstanding views of the Stour estuary and great opportunities to spot some Essex wildlife. One of the highlights of this trail is the chance to spot English contemporary artist, Grayson Perry’s ‘A House for Essex’, or ‘Julie’s House’, which was commissioned as part of the Living Architecture programme. The structure was designed to depict the life of fictitious saint Julie Cope. If it's been raining recently, be sure to wear sensible footwear, as it can get muddy in places.

Great British Life: Manningtree to FlatfordManningtree to Flatford

Manningtree to Flatford

The landscape along this walk was made world-famous and immortalised by artists such as Constable and Gainsborough and still remains instantly recognisable from their art today. The route from Manningtree to Flatford is a four-mile walk, starting at Manningtree Station, but if you’re looking for a longer stroll, then there is the option to carry on through to the neighbouring village of Dedham and to East Bergholt. The terrain involves mostly flat grass and gravel paths, with occasional moderate slopes. These charming, historical villages still hold the beauty that they did all those years ago, but now with the addition of independent shops, pubs, tearooms and more. Hire a rowing boat along the river, enjoy a traditional cream tea at Tiptree Tea Room, or a hearty meal and pint at The Sun Inn.

Great British Life: Highwoods Country ParkHighwoods Country Park

Highwoods Country Park

One of the best dog walks in Colchester, Highwoods Country Park is made up of beautiful woodlands, a dipping pond, vegetable garden and an orchard. The expansive grassy areas provides fantastic views of the countryside and lake. As well as being a fantastic location for dog walkers, with a variety of routes to explore with each visit, there’s also a play area, visitor centre, and toilets, making it perfect for the whole family. You can find this country park just a short walk from the main line station in Colchester.

Epping Forest Oak Trail

Epping Forest is a 2,400-hectare ancient woodland that spans over 12 miles from Manor Park in East London, to just north of Epping, Essex. The Forest has 10 waymarked circular trails, most of which start and end near car parks or train stations and is the home to 55,000 ancient trees, including Oaks, Beech and Hornbeam, heaths, ponds and lakes. So, if you’re looking to get out of the city and enjoy some nature and wildlife, then make your way to one of the four visitor centres within Epping Forest. Here, you will find maps, guide books, and more to help you during your visit.

Weald Country Park

With more than 500 acres of woodland, lakes, meadows and open grassland to explore, Weald Country Park will soon become your new favourite woodland walk in Essex. The park is famous for its fantastic wildlife, so get your camera out in preparation of sighting fallow deer, cattle, herons, mallard ducks and a host of other bird species. Perfect for both individuals and families, the park’s visitor centre includes a shop and a café for refuelling after your adventures, and is home to the Stick Man play trail, bringing to life the popular book by Julia Donaldson.

Rochford Circular Walk

An easy eight-mile circular walk around the historic market town of Rochford. Starting and finishing at Rochford Train Station, the walk takes in the banks of the river Roach, beautiful rolling countryside and part of the sea wall before returning to the attractive town. When in need of well-deserved refreshment, there are plenty of pubs along the way for you to enjoy.

Great British Life: The Flitch WayThe Flitch Way

The Flitch Way

The former trainline that linked Bishop’s Stortford to Braintree is now a 15-mile flat, relatively straight and well-surfaced route that is favourite with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The Flitch Way is a haven for wildlife: mammals, birds, flowers and insects, with the path passing through a variety of landscapes and habitats including the ancient royal hunting grounds of Hatfield Forest. Look out for a number of interesting sites along the way, including Victorian railway stations, Hatfield Forest, Great Notley Country Park, Rayne Station with its Booking Hall Café and Railway Carriage Museum, and several historic towns and villages.

Turpin’s Trail

Named after the famous highwayman, Dick Turpin who was born in Hempstead and worked as a butcher in nearby Thaxted, Turpin’s Trail is a six-mile circular walk through the North Essex countryside. There are three linked trails you can follow from Great Sampford to Hempstead, which all pass the Bluebell Inn, the birthplace of Turpin himself. The walk passes rivers, fields, ancient churches and is a wonderful stroll through the Essex countryside.

The Gruffalo Trail

Thorndon Country Park in Brentwood is home to a host of hand-carved Gruffalo characters, which lead the way through the delightful Gruffalo Trail. The 45-minute self-guided discovery walk is a joy for both children and adults. Walkers weave their way along the path finding the much-loved Gruffalo characters. The trail is an easy walk, suitable for all abilities and passes through native Essex woodland. It is a wonderful way for all ages to make special memories together.

Great British Life: The Saffron TrailThe Saffron Trail

The Saffron Trail

The 70-mile Saffron Trail can be broken down into many easy walks of around seven to eleven miles in length. The trail starts in the historic market town of Saffron Walden in North Essex and winds its way south through Great Dunmow, Battlesbridge and Danbury before finishing at the seaside city of Southend. Classed as an easy/moderate walk, the terrain flutters between agricultural and urban, but is constantly interrupted by rivers, seashore, woodland, historic buildings and monuments. The Saffron Trail is a chance to explore everything that’s best about Essex: river valleys, tree-lined hill margins and water-banks; from the still, crystal waters of the Chelmer, to the tidal rush of the Crouch and Thames.

Great British Life: Chelmer and Blackwater Canal RouteChelmer and Blackwater Canal Route

Chelmer and Blackwater Canal Walk

This 18-mile picturesque walk starts in the urban environment of the city of Chelmsford but soon enters the unspoilt rural Essex landscape. Following the course of the Chelmer River and Blackwater Navigation, which links the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater, you will pass through 13 locks before arriving at Heybridge Basin. Visitors can treat themselves to a special pint at the end of the walk in Heybridge at one of the pretty lockside pubs or enjoy an afternoon tea at the Tiptree Tearoom.

Great British Life: Crag WalkCrag Walk

Crag Walk

For those looking for some fresh sea air, the short Crag Walk is ideal. The trail starts at the 18th Century Naze Tower which is perched on the Naze’s eroding cliffs - climb to the top of the tower for great views over the area. The path heads to the beach which is home to migrating birds, a nature reserve, and fossils. Heading south, the path winds its way toward the charming seaside town of Walton, passing sandy beaches, beach huts, cafes and ends at Walton Pier, where a warm welcome and refreshments await.

Great British Life: Walking with WitchesWalking with Witches

Walking with Witches

This short walk on the Stour Estuary between Essex and Suffolk is inspired by the 17th century East Anglian witch trials. During this dark period of English history, around 300 people were tried for witchcraft and close to 100 executed as ‘witches’. Highlights on this walk include Hopping Bridge, Gamekeeper Pond, Old Knobbley - an ancient, gnarled oak tree - and South Street in Manningtree where in 1645 four local women were hanged for the crime of witchcraft. Be sure to explore Mistley Towers as you pass. If you get hungry along the way, enjoy delicious food at The Mistley Thorn restaurant.

Great British Life: Harwich Maritime TrailHarwich Maritime Trail

Harwich Maritime Trail

The Harwich Heritage Trail takes you through the small historic town of Harwich. This self-guided walk around the old town takes in its rich heritage and history. The easy-to-follow route begins at Harwich Railway station and passes 21 notable sites along the way including the Napoleonic Redoubt Fort, the Treadwheel Crane, the Maritime Museum and the Electric Palace, a rare example of one of the earliest cinemas in Britain. You’ll also pass Harwich Quay, home to Ha’penny Pier – Harwich’s most iconic landmark and one the UK's only surviving working, wooden piers.

The Essex Way

The Essex Way is the county’s most important long-distance path, stretching from Epping to Harwich over a distance of 81 miles, passing through six county districts: Epping Forest, Chelmsford, Uttlesford, Braintree, Colchester and Tendring. It is a chance to explore the contrasting geo-features of Essex from town to tree-scape and city to sea. The trail is a flat, diagonal journey between mid-west and north-east Essex and switches between the urban areas of Chelmsford and Coggeshall to the wilder river valleys of the Colne and Stour. There are no steep climbs, and the gentle slopes down into the river valleys and by the coast are unforgettable.

Essex Sunshine Coast

This 6.5-mile traffic-free route takes you along the Sunshine Coast between Frinton Golf Club and Jaywick. With magnificent sea views, this route is perfect for all the family with a flat, wide path to explore the various beaches along the way. You will pass through Holland-on-Sea, a pretty seaside town before you arrive in Clacton, the largest and busiest resort on the Sunshine Coast. Here, as well as admiring the long sandy beaches and seafront gardens, you can explore the Pier which has rides, amusements, an aquarium, ten-pin bowling, sea fishing and refreshments. If you continue the route to Jaywick you will find some amazing, quiet sandy beaches and the Jaywick Martello Tower to explore.

Marks Tey to Chappel

Walk from Marks Tey station to the pretty village of Chappel on the beautiful Gainsborough Line. This five-mile walk explores the high plateau of north-east Essex. It offers sweeping views across the valleys of the River Colne and Roman River before passing underneath the imposing Chappel viaduct. The walk ends at the beautifully restored Chappel Station, home of the East Anglia Railway Museum. Classed as an easy walk this trail is suitable for all abilities, but the route can be muddy so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.

English Heritage and Historic Essex

Follow this trail and discover the hidden gems located in the cobbled streets of Saffron Walden. This charming town’s rich heritage and wealth is reflected in the large number of old buildings whilst retaining the original medieval street layout. Bridge End, Castle Street, Myddylton Place and Church Street display many timbered houses dating from the 15th century, of which the Youth Hostel and the Old Sun Inn are outstanding examples. The gently rolling surrounding landscape, sprinkled with rivers and lit by constantly changing East Anglian skies, miles of country lanes, hidden byways, bridleways and public footpaths is best explored by walking or cycling.

Colchester Orbital Walk

The Colchester Orbital is a 15-mile picturesque walking route, which follows existing public rights of way, taking advantage of and connecting some of the loveliest green spaces and off-road pathway networks. The Orbital walk circles the edge of the city and covers a wide range of terrain. It can be followed in three sections: the Orbital East, South and West. The East route from Highwoods Country Park to the University of Essex explores Welsh Wood and Salary Brook Nature Reserve. Meander through Hilly Fields, Cymbeline Meadows and Charter Wood on the West Orbital or take the route South to discover the Hythe, Bourne Valley and Middlewick Ranges.

The Medieval Thaxted Trail

A delightful circular walk of approximately one mile, showcasing what is considered to be the jewel in the crown of Essex! The Thaxted trail will take you past several famous sights including the Clarence House Conservation Garden and Orchard, restored Windmill, magnificent church and Guildhall. Venture out through the rolling North Essex countryside before heading back down the quaint streets, past the iconic medieval houses back to your starting point.

For more information, visit visitessex.co.uk



BROUGHT TO YOU BY…

Essex Life Read more

Latest articles

More from Essex Life

BROUGHT TO YOU BY…

Essex Life Read more