During the summer of 2020 I big goodbye to London, and moved back to my hometown, Colchester. At the time I was in the process of moving abroad and I had to leave London as a result. The move was temporary fix during an unprecdented time. Unfortunately, moving abroad never happened due the current climate of the world. Despite the fact the move to Essex was never permanent I felt concern at returning to my hometown.
Being a creative and a more flamboyant character I struggled growing up in Essex as a child. Boozing and tanning is a religion and 90% of the population believe ‘football is coming home’ every consecutive world cup. Yes, Essex certainly has its share of fame from cliches and stereotypes, but I soon found that the region truly has some endearing qualities that can stoke up new creativity.
Whilst I have now returned to London where my life has been based for the past 10 years I now consider Essex a great place to explore. There is many places that offered artistic flare and nature spots that allowed me to release my anxiety.
Here are my top picks for exploring Essex.
Dedham is a picturesque village that is famed for scenic country walks. Take in fresh country air and walk from Dedham toward the Flatford Mill. The large stretch of open greenery allows for a range of picnic opportunities. Dedham also offers lovely beer gardens and cute tearooms. The nature is truly beautiful and offers plenty of inspiration.
Dedham is particularly famous because of the landscape painter John Constable, (1776- 1837). Many of his works are exhibited in various museums across the countries or sold for auction at Christie’s. He painted several landscapes of Dedham, the most notable being The Vale of Dedham.
2. Frinton-on-Sea & Walton-on-the-Naze
Essex has one of the largest coastlines in the UK, (905 km to be exact), with so many seaside towns to explore it is hard to know which is worth visiting. The issue is many seaside town’s throughout the UK seem to have been left in disrepair since the 1950’s. As a result the areas can look rundown and the coastline can be unkempt. Whilst Essex hosts a variety of beaches covered in shale, Frinton and Walton offer soft sand to place your feet.
Frinton-on-Sea is a small town offering shops and cafes to explore. The beach is often less busy and allows you to enjoy the fresh sea air. A short walk or drive from Frinton-on-Sea is Walton-on-the-Naze. Whilst the pier has an antique experience there is something endearing about this old seaside town. The highlight of Walton is the nature trail which allows you to get sweeping views of the sea from the cliffside.
Chances are you have had Tiptree Jam at some point in your life. The selection of jams are often used in fancier hotels alongside popular brands like Bonne Maman. You can now visit the local area it is produced. Tiptree itself, is a charming small town where a visit to the Tiptree Tea Room is an absolute must. If you are in search of history you can explore the Tiptree museum.
4. Mersea Island
Mersea Island is a unique seaside island located south-east of Colchester Town. Visiting Mersea comes with a sense of adventure as you cross the only road into the island ‘The Strood’ which will flood during the hightide. Thankfully with modern technology one can download and application and know when to set off. The island itself is divided into West and East Mersea. Each side offers a different experience. A common highlight is crab fishing. A seaside pastime that allows children and adult alike to fish for crabs, don’t worry though the crabs are allowed back into the water afterwards. For some quiet reflection I would suggest visiting the east of the island.
5. Colchester Town
Colchester Town is the oldest recorded town in England. It is also cited as the first city in the United-Kingdom. Boudica first raged war with the romans in Colchester destroying the ancient temples. Nevertheless, the town still homes many ancient relics from the times of the roman empire. The highlight of the town is Colchester Castle which is situated in the heart of the town. One can enjoy the ancient majesty of the castle whilst walking along Colchester Park. Meanwhile, the town centre itself boasts a selection of high street brands and local cafes. For a more calm experience I would avoid the boisterous pubs.