1. See where Constable got his inspiration
Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley, dissected by the meandering River Stour were immortalised by John Constable in his paintings over 200 years ago, including The Haywain. For some the scenery here on the Essex/Suffolk border is the quintessential English rural landscape.
2. Experience life ‘below stairs’ at a stately home
One of England’s finest country houses, Audley End, is also a mansion with a difference. The Service Wing including kitchen, scullery, pantry and laundries, gives an insight into Victorian life below stairs. The house itself is magnificent with elaborately decorated rooms and a stunning art collection.
3. Walk out on Southend Pier
The longest pier in the world (at 1.34 miles) has been restored to its former glory in recent years. A walk on Southend Pier is the perfect way to go for a taste of the freedom of the sea and invigorating fresh air. Trains also run to the Pier Head where the RNLI station is located.
4. Cycle the Flitch Way
The Flitch Way passes through 15 miles of countryside along the former Bishop’s Stortford to Braintree railway line in the heart of rural Essex. The trail passes railway cuttings rich in wildlife dotted with attractive Victorian stations.
5. Visit the Beth Chatto Gardens
Beth Chatto Gardens grew out of a patch of wasteland at the back of her husband’s Essex fruit farm and became one of the best-loved gardens in Britain. The now famous Gravel Garden, cleverly planted to resemble a dried-up river bed, is filled with drought-resisting plants. Shady areas make homes for woodland plants, while water gardens surround four large pools, which lie in the spring-fed hollow.
6. Taste Colchester Native Oysters
Colchester Native Oysters are harvested in the shallow creeks off Mersea Island. They can be enjoyed at the Company Shed, where the concept at this family run eatery is simple. Bring your own bread and drink and enjoy lunch of seafood platters, seared scallops, grilled mussels etc. And eat oysters grown by the Haward family, who have been fattening oysters since the mid 1700s.
7. Explore Tilbury Fort
The best example of its type in England, Tilbury Fort on the Thames estuary has protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century. There’s plenty of space for children to run around and explore the magazine houses used to store vast quantities of gunpowder and feel what it was like for the soldiers who lived there.
8. Picnic at England’s oldest church
In a remote part of Essex where the marshlands meet the sea lies St Peters On The Wall. This is England’s oldest church still in use, built by St Cedd of Lindisfarne in 654. It is always open and offers a small exhibition about its history. Enjoy a circular walk taking in the church, a nature reserve and the sea wall with views across the estuary.
9. Watch medieval jousting at Headingham Castle
The impressive Norman keep of Headingham Castle is the venue for regular medieval themed events including jousting, archery and birds of prey.
10. Experience the unique atmosphere of Jaywick
Built in the 1930s as a holiday village of chalets for London’s East Enders it now has a year-round population and is the most deprived place in the UK. Despite its problems, Jaywick still possesses character and is worth a visit to see the locals’ proud tradition of self-reliance.
If this inspires you, why not browse our selection of holiday parks and caravan parks in Essex, and see what catches your eye?
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