Point out Essex and the very first thing that involves thoughts wouldn’t be climbing. Certain there aren’t any mountains, and it’s primarily flat, but it’s some of the unspoilt counties in England. The route may be accomplished in both route, taking round ten days, however I’m hoping to do it in six, strolling from West to East.
Day 1 Epping to Salt’s Inexperienced 16 miles
I take the tube to the Epping, on the finish of the Central line, and set out into the countryside. It’s raining closely and this makes the trail muddy and treacherous. I’m quickly in huge fields of wheat, one thing I’ll see lots of within the subsequent few days, in addition to beans, onions and apples.
Simply earlier than Ongar, Greensted has the oldest wood church on the planet, relationship from 645 AD. That is the land of exceptional church buildings and later, in Willingale, there are two in the identical churchyard, apparently catering for various parishes.
Day 2 Salt’s Inexperienced to Nice Leighs 12.5 miles
Essex has a labyrinth of inexperienced lanes, relationship from Saxon instances, tunnelling via woodland, and I comply with one to the historic village of Pleshey.
The fort right here will get a point out in Shakespeare’s Richard II, but it surely’s lengthy gone, simply the mound and moat stay. Nice Leighs has the world’s largest producer of cricket bats, long-established from Willow plantations rising on Essex’s many riverbanks.
Day three Nice Leighs to Coggleshall 15 miles
Extra fields of wheat result in Terling the place the windmill has had its sails trimmed. It’s now a wonderful home owned by a member of The Prodigy.
Within the 18th century, there have been round 285 working windmills however now solely a handful stay. In Cressing, simply off the route, two exceptional barns constructed by the Knights Templar within the 13th century have been restored, together with the Tudor walled backyard. Coggeshall has its personal model, 40m lengthy, constructed for the monks of the abbey.
Day four Coggleshall to Nice Horkesley 11.5 miles
Coggleshall marks the midway level with an engraved stone, subsequent to the stays of the abbey, now simply the small chapel of St Nicolas and the Abbot’s lodging.
I press on to the Colne valley and uncover a line of WW2 pillboxes constructed after Dunkirk to guard in opposition to German invasion. The trail follows the beautiful River Colne, at 36 miles the longest in Essex, to West Bergholt after which to Nice Horkesley. The fields are stuffed with poppies, the official image of Essex.
Day 5 Nice Horkesley to Mistley 14 miles
After days of degree strolling, I start to come across some ups and downs. Passing Dedham Vale winery, which produces remarkably good wines, I’m quickly into Constable Nation.
On the banks of the River Stour the mix of sunshine, water and dappled greenery are actual dwell variations of his nice works. The painter was born in Dedham and, predictably is a magnet for vacationers. Nonetheless, it’s a very good place to cease for a pint earlier than I wind my method via Manningtree to the banks of the huge Stour estuary and Mistley.
Day 6 Mistley to Harwich 12 miles
The day begins with the distinctive aroma of malt. Mistley has been malting barley for the reason that 17th century and now has the most important facility within the nation. The trail leads via the manufacturing unit yard, then throughout farmland, to tiny Bradfield.
Quickly it’s again on the estuary banks earlier than heading south, previous Ramsey with its windmill, to the saltmarshes by the ocean. Dovercourt has a protracted line of seaside huts and two distinctive iron lighthouses in-built 1863. The massive cranes at Felixstowe loom on the horizon and I cross bathers earlier than arriving at Harwich. An indication on the lighthouse tells me I’ve reached my closing vacation spot.
After six days of strolling, I’ve had many of the path to myself, aside from the occasional canine walker and positively no different hikers. That’s a disgrace because the route offers a glimpse of an unknown rural Essex, virtually a snapshot of misplaced instances, with its church buildings, historical barns, abbeys, castles and windmills. In fact it’s primarily flat however that makes for splendidly huge skies, the clouds billowing up from the horizon. Better of all are the myriad nation pubs, at all times beckoning you in for refreshment.
NOTE: Though the route in all fairness effectively signed it is smart to hold a guidebook and obtain a GPS monitor. Lodging is on brief provide on the route correct however Chelmsford, Braintree and Colchester are all simply accessible by bus or taxi.
Strolling in Essex, revealed by Cicerone is an indispensable information.
MORE INFO: Go to Essex has details about the county.
GET THERE: Higher Anglia has frequent prepare companies to Harwich, Braintree and Colchester.
STAY: The County Resort makes a cushty base in Chelmsford with good meals.
Panfield Home is a completely serviced cottage in Braintree Centre.
For a contact of luxurious, the Greyfriars Resort is true within the centre of Colchester.
The Mistley Thorn in Mistley is instantly on the route, has nice rooms and a very good restaurant.