Bordering the north bank of the River Thames, Essex has long been a gateway to London, and while it contains much heavy industry and urban development, it also encompasses some lovely countryside, coastal attractions and important wildlife habitats. Northeast Essex has the true feel of East Anglia, particularly around the outstanding villages of the Stour Valley - which has come to be known as Constable Country, a title it shares with neighbouring Suffolk. The inland villages and small towns here are notably historic and picturesque, offering very good touring and walking opportunities. A plethora of half-timbered medieval buildings, farms and churches mark this region out as of particular historical interest. Monuments to engineering feats past and present include Hedingham Castle, Chappel Viaduct and the Post Mill at Bocking Church Street. There are also many lovely gardens to visit, and the region’s principal town, Colchester, is a mine of interesting sights and experiences.
The north Essex coast has a distinguished history and a strong maritime heritage, as exemplified in towns like Harwich, Manningtree and Mistley. Further examples are the fine Martello Towers -circular brick edifices built to provide a coastal defence against Napoleon’s armies - along theTendring coast at Walton, Clacton, Jaywick and Point Clear. The Tendring Coast contains an interesting mix of extensive tidal inlets, sandy beaches and low cliffs, and the Tendring District Council publishes a series of Tendring Trails beginning at Mistley, Manningtree, Debenham, Ardleigh and other places along the North Essex coast.
For more free guides in this series, visit the Travel & Holidays pages.