Walking in Essex

25 day walks and a cross-country route

By Peter Aylmer

Walking in Essex describes 25 day walks across the whole of the historic county of Essex. The Essex Way is also covered in 11 stages from Manor Park, to the port of Harwich. Essex may not be the first place you think of for walking, it's varied landscape includes ancient forests and miles of coastline all within easy reach of London.



all four seasons can be enjoyed by the walker in Essex; with its mostly clay soils, it's a good idea to wear boots after prolonged rain


Chelmsford, Colchester, Harlow, Saffron Walden, Southend; easy access also from neighbouring counties (including Kent by the Dartford crossing) and east and north London


walks are suitable for all abilities; ascents are mostly short and rarely steep; some longer walks of up to 18 miles are included for those seeking more challenge.
Must See

Must See

the coast - unspoilt and barely known away from the famous resorts; an internationally-important refuge for bird life; green lanes - Essex has more than any county save Dorset; wood and forest - Epping, Hatfield, Hainault and many others.
7 Nov 2013
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    With ancient forests, an abundance of green lanes, acres of rolling downland and 350 miles of coastline, much of it home to important bird reserves, Essex has more to offer than many walkers realise.

    Essex may not be high on many walkers hit lists. In fact it probably doesn't feature at all. But to overlook this corner of England is to overlook some fantastic and varied walking.

    From the saltmarsh to the chalk uplands and east London’s Epping Forest to Constable’s Dedham Vale, this guidebook shows just how much variety there is to be had in this most misunderstood of counties.

    Waymarking in Essex is generally good. You'll get especially used to the distinctive concrete posts that show where many paths leave road; unique to the county of Essex, these are now over 50 years old and are weathering in a surprisingly beautiful way.

    This guidebook describes 25 coastal and inland day walks covering the whole of the historic country of Essex, stretching from the Lea Valley in the west and the Thames in the south over to the North Sea and up to the River Stour in the north. Also included is a description of the Essex Way which crosses the county in 11 stages from Manor Park, on the fringes of London, to the port of Harwich - a distance of 96 miles.

    • 22 circular and 3 linear day walks, from 4 to 18 miles
    • the 11-stage Essex Way route across the county from Manor Park on the outskirts of London to Harwich on the coast
    • notes on 9 other long-distance routes in Essex
    • illustrated with OS mapping and colour photographs
  • Contents

    The geology of Essex
    Natural Essex
    Town and village
    When to go
    Getting there and getting around
    Where to stay
    Access and waymarking
    What to take
    Using this guide
    Coast and Estuary
    Walk 1 The Naze peninsula
    Walk 2 Mersea Island
    Walk 3 The marshes around Tollesbury
    Walk 4 St Peter’s Chapel and Bradwell marshes
    Walk 5 River Crouch
    Walk 6 Leigh-on-Sea and Hadleigh Castle
    Inland Essex
    Walk 7 Orsett Fen
    Walk 8 Havering-atte-Bower
    Walk 9 Hainault Forest and Lambourne
    Walk 10 Mill Green and Writtle Forest
    Walk 11 Danbury
    Walk 12 Moreton and the Matchings
    Walk 13 The River Stort at Harlow
    Walk 14 Hatfield Forest
    Walk 15 Debden and Widdington
    Walk 16 Arkesden, Chrishall and Elmdon
    Walk 17 Great Chesterford and Saffron Walden
    Walk 18 Ashdon
    Walk 19 Radwinter and Bendysh Woods
    Walk 20 Thaxted and Great Easton
    Walk 21 Finchingfield and Great Bardfield
    Walk 22 Castle Hedingham and Hull’s Mill
    Walk 23 Chalkney Wood and Earl’s Colne
    Walk 24 Bures to Sudbury
    Walk 25 Dedham
    Across Essex: Manor Park to Harwich
    Stage 1 Manor Park to Epping
    Stage 2 Epping to Ongar
    Stage 3 Ongar to Salt’s Green
    Stage 4 Salt’s Green to Great Waltham
    Stage 5 Great Waltham to White Notley
    Stage 6 White Notley to Coggeshall
    Stage 7 Coggeshall to Fordstreet Bridge
    Stage 8 Fordstreet Bridge to Great Horkesley
    Stage 9 Great Horkesley to Dedham
    Stage 10 Dedham to Wrabness
    Stage 11 Wrabness to Harwich

    Appendix A Route summary table
    Appendix B Useful contacts
    Appendix C Nine more long-distance paths in Essex
    Appendix D Further reading

  • Maps

    The extracts in this book from Ordnance Survey Landranger maps, at 1:50,000 scale, when coupled with the route descriptions, will keep you on track. The county as a whole is covered by sheets 154, 155, 166 to 169, 177 and 178.

    There is even more detail on the Explorer series at 1:25,000. For the walker, these are invaluable in showing field boundaries and so help resolve the old question of ‘which side of that hedge should I be?’ The county is covered by 162, 163, 174 to 176, 183, 184, 195, 196, 209 and 210.

    Mapping software allows you to scale Landranger or Explorer maps as you wish and print off specific areas relevant to your walk. Anquet, Quo and Memory Map are three of the best known. All enable maps to be saved to GPS devices, and some to smartphones; for the latter, ViewRanger is a dedicated app.

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Peter Aylmer

Peter Aylmer has climbed many hills and walked many long-distance paths all over Britain, and is equally at home in a tent or bothy in the Scottish Highlands as he is in a nature reserve hidden in some unconsidered London suburb.

Peter still relishes the surprise on people’s faces when he tells them that some of his favourite walking is in London and Essex. The secret is knowing where to look. This started early for Peter, visiting his uncle's farm in Essex; later, taking the tube out to Epping Forest after work so that he could walk back home through it. Now, as a walk leader for the Long Distance Walkers Association, he is still developing new routes through both town and country in southern England.

Peter spent his career in education, from teacher and politician to writer and editor at national level. He is now chair of trustees for the UK wing of an international aid charity.

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