Walking in Essex
25 walks and a 96 mile 'across Essex' route
By Peter Aylmer
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Guidebook to 25 day walks in the county of Essex. Ranging from 4 to 17 miles, the walks showcase the county's delightfully varied landscape. Also includes a full description of the 96 mile 'Across Essex' route, which incorporates the Essex Way and a traverse of Epping Forest on its way from Manor Park to Harwich.
Seasonsall 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
CentresChelmsford, Colchester, Harlow, Saffron Walden, Southend. Easy access also from neighbouring counties (including Kent by the Dartford crossing) and east and north London
Difficultythe 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 of a challenge
Must Seethe 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
This guidebook describes 25 coastal and inland day walks covering the whole of the county 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. Walks range from 4 to 18 miles and are mostly circular. 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. The walks are suitable for all abilities and there are shorter alternatives for many of the longer routes.
With a huge variety of scenery and walking landscapes, Essex surprises and delights in equal measure. It boasts a 350-mile coastline (which, away from the busy seaside resorts, is barely known), numerous estuaries and river valleys, great and ancient forests, and more green lanes than any other English county except Dorset.
Each walk is described step-by-step, illustrated with OS map extracts and packed with historical, and geological information about the landscape the route passes through.
The geology of 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
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
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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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