Coastal walks in Essex: 9 of the best
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Essex has 350 miles of coastline, offering a great range walks, diverse landscapes and wonderful wilderness. Here, Essex Life picks out nine of the county's best coastal walks...
Take a stroll along the promenade while enjoying the views across the North Sea then stop off in front of the hundreds of old fashioned beach huts to perhaps enjoy a picnic. Not only will you be able to enjoy Frinton and its classic beach huts, this walk will take you down the coast to Walton-on-the-Naze with stunning views of this delightful stretch of coastline all the way.
This 3.5-mile stroll will take you at least two hours and will give you the opportunity to visit an oyster fishery, a 16th century fort and Langenhoe Marsh. Of Essex’s 19 islands of varying size, Mersea Island is likely the county’s most attractive and the walk will allow you to explore the wildlife-rich environment and spot butterflies floating around the meadows or birds flying along the coastline.
Starting at Southend Pier you’ll follow the esplanade along the coast all the way to Hadleigh Park where you’ll get elevated views of the Hadleigh Ray and, on a clear day, all the way over to neighbouring Kent. The highlight in Hadleigh Park is inevitably the remains of Hadleigh Castle and it is certainly worth taking time to explore these historic ruins before this 12.5-mile route takes you inland towards Hockley.
This beautiful six-mile walk takes you around Bradwell’s stunning coastal delights including its ancient chapel and where the River Blackwater meets open water. The ancient Chapel of St Peter on the Wall was built in 674 using the brick of the ruined Roman fort, hence ‘on the wall’. It is thought to have been used as a church up until the parish church of St Thomas of Bradwell was built in the 14th century, by which time it became a chapel-of-ease. Some time later it was turned into a barn and used for farming purposes.
You set off from Harwich - where you can look over to Felixstowe Docks and the North Sea - before heading along the Essex Way long-distance trail to Dovercourt Bay, a spot popular with photographers for its distinctive low lighthouses. After following South Hall Creek for a little while the path heads inland towards Little Oakley, the A120 and Ramsey. This won’t be your last chance to walk by the water, however: as you near Wrabness you will walk adjacent to Copperas Bay on the Stour Estuary.
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Follow the path of the cliffs at Naze Tower before heading inland to find creeks, marshes, mudflats and inlets. You’ll come to the edge of Walton-on-the-Naze and this will be your chance to grab something to eat or drink. The Naze Tower - which is your start and end point for this route - was built in 1720 and is undoubtedly one of the county’s most recognisable landmarks.
Experience a few of Essex’s classic seaside resorts as you follow the waterline through Clacton’s famously golden sands, Holland-on-Sea, Frinton-on-Sea and eventually coming to Walton-on-the-Naze. The seven miles you’ll cover are also very easy going and there will be lots of opportunity to enjoy an ice cream as you walk if you’re taking the route during summer.
Start near the iconic Bateman’s Tower and enjoy views over to Mersea Island before you embark on your route at the end of the beach huts. You’ll soon end up on a track - the old railway - that looks out over the Colne Estuary and which will eventually bring you through farmland and back into Brightlingsea itself. Throughout the six-mile trail you’ll see the best of the only Cinque port north of the Thames.
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The link above gives you the choice of a short walk at six miles or a longer walk at nine miles but you can be sure that each will give you a fantastic look at an area that has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The views of the Blackwater Estuary are stunning throughout and it also goes through Tollesbury itself if you’re in need of refreshment. Keep an eye out for the distinctive Sail Lofts, buildings originally constructed to house the sails of racing yachts that are now used as offices and a tea room.