• Essex – 'The Sunrise Coast'

    The Essex coastline runs from Purfleet on the River Thames to Manningtree at the tidal head of the River Stour. It is 60 miles by road from the south west corner of the county to the north east however if you walk the coastline you will cover more than 300 miles. It is an infinitely varied coast from the mud of the Thames, through the salt marshes of the Blackwater, to the sandy beaches at Frinton; not all of it is accessible to the public, but the vast majority is.

  • The Essex Coastline

    A trip along the Essex coast can be extended to the north bank of the Thames to Tower Bridge. There is much waterside development along this stretch particularly on the Isle of Dogs and Wapping. With the A12 and A13 East Anglia is within easy reach. The Essex coastal journey should also take in the River Orwell which although being in Suffolk has an exit to the sea through the Essex port of Harwich.

    Travelling the eastbound route along the north bank of the Thames there are a number of ancient villages such as Grays and Tilbury that have been subsumed over the last two hundred years into larger urban towns. The port of Tilbury is very much an active commercial port.

    At Coryton you have to leave the coast firstly to pass the large oil refinery and then to go north of Canvey Island.

    Two hundred years ago Old Leigh, Westcliff and Southend on Sea were separate villages each with their own identity. Thorpe Bay did not exist. Now these villages all run into each other with some fine houses having wonderful views over the Thames to the Kent shore. Those with a maritime leaning can log the ships in and out of the Thames.

    Old Leigh nestles between the railway and the shoreline and has some old boat yards and charming eateries.

    The coastal journey now runs north to the rivers Roach and Crouch. The Roach is a remote river that runs south from the River Crouch. It has some lovely secluded anchorages in some of the creeks.

    The River Crouch is a famous yachting river with a regatta that once rivalled Cowes. There are several old and venerated yacht clubs on this river such as the Royal Corinthian and the Royal Burnham. The Crouch runs some 11 miles from mouth to navigable head. It is a lovely river with many anchorages and eateries that can be reached by dinghy.

    North of the Crouch is the Dengie Peninsular. It is a long and largely uninhabited stretch of coast all the way to Maldon at the head of the river Blackwater. At the north eastern tip of the peninsular is the chapel of St Peter’s on the Wall. It takes some getting to but is well worth the effort.

    The ancient town of Maldon, where a battle was fought against the Vikings in 991AD, has for many years been a Thames sailing barges centre. These barges used to carry coal and grain from the east coast up the river to the rapidly growing metropolis. It is said that in their heyday standing on the coast at Lowestoft they could be counted in their hundreds. Many barges have been maintained and restored now carrying fare paying passengers.

    At the mouth of the Blackwater is Mersea Island with another of the great East Anglian yacht clubs at West Mersea. The island is some four miles long and a mile wide and is connected to the mainland by the road known as the Strood. This road is passable most of the time but gets flooded at high water on spring tides. Locals always carry a tide table with them.

    The River Colne runs north from Mersea Island up to Colchester. All the wharves at Wivenhoe, Rowhedge and the Hythe have closed so for the first time since the Romans were here, this is no longer a commercial route for shipping. Brightlingsea at the mouth of the river still has an active commercial wharf and can take small coastal vessels.

    From here the coast runs north east past Jaywick, Clacton, Frinton and Walton. The coast needs no sea wall here as the land rises back from the beach giving some wonderful sea views along the seafront esplanades. Frinton with its famous cliff top greensward is a sought after place to live with some very fine houses in the numbered avenues.

    Between Walton and Harwich the coastal route meanders a considerable distance around the creeks and swatch ways of the Walton Backwaters. Maurice Griffiths, an eminent local yachtsman wrote a much loved book about the magic of the swatch ways and it was from here that Arthur Ransome’s –‘Swallows and Amazons’ family “didn’t mean to go to sea”.

    Next we come to Harwich, which in spite of the enormous container port on the Suffolk side of the harbour, is still a bustling harbour in its own right. Trinity House has a maritime base here while at the Parkeston Quay end of Harwich an increasing number of cruise liners visit.

    The last stretch of the Essex coast runs from Harwich to Manningtree along the south side of the River Stour. This is a wide river with extensive mudflats at low water. Mistley, just short of Manningtree is really the navigable head of the river. It used to be a busy little port but trade has dropped off in recent years.

    The Essex coastline ends at Manningtree however as the Essex port of Harwich is also the mouth of the lovely River Orwell we should include this latter river in our sketch of the Essex coast. The Orwell is a beautiful tree lined river running up to Ipswich Docks. This is still a regularly used port for commercial trade. The river is a mecca for yachtsmen with many visitors from Holland at the peak of the season.

  • Yachting

    East coast yachtsmen love the East Anglian coast from St Katharine’s dock at the Tower of London to the River Ore in Suffolk. It is very much an acquired taste with the extensive mud flats, the drying out creeks and the many sandbanks in the Thames Estuary. However with a little mastery of the tides it makes for a high quality cruising area.

    There are many yacht clubs in the various rivers, some more grand than others. Thurrock Yacht Club at Grays is the most westerly and Frinton & Walton Yacht Club is the most easterly. In between are the grand Royal clubs in Burnham, the friendly West Mersea Yacht Club and others in the Crouch , Colne, Blackwater and Roach.

    Learn to Sail and Watersport

    From powerboat, canoe, kayak and windsurf tuition in Southend to RYA certified courses and sail cruising tuition at Burnham on Crouch; there are many sailing clubs and centres that cater for most requirements.

    Water-ski tuition can be found on the serene lakes at Gosfield, Near Braintree and Essex Water Sports cater for the more adventurous with wakeboard, ringo rides, jet ski and water ski out of St Osyth.

    Regattas

    Essex plays host to some excellent annual regattas, the most renowned being Burnham week, although some prefer the fun and entertainment held at West Mersea during late August, with other venues being at Paglesham, Manningtree and Harwich – The events and dates can easily be sourced on a web search.

  • Rivers & Waterways

    Relaxed and varied cruising is the order of the day when boating in Essex. Drifting down tranquil rivers, through endless countryside and unspoilt villages, you would never believe the bright lights of the capital are just a brief drive away. With several waterways to explore, all vastly different in character, you can see how the mood takes you and choose between a willow-lined voyage back in time down the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation or a quicker cruise along the River Roach. Light rowing boats have the run of Constable’s river – the delightful River Stour.

  • Fishing

    Essex is perfect for a day of coarse fishing, with lakes brimming with carp, roach and perch, to name but a few. The River Chelmer is known for its coarse fish, and this feeds the River Cam, which is also an angler’s hotspot. If you fancy a challenge, then try your luck reeling in one of the brown trout ‘fighters’ at Hanningfield Reservoir.

    Pier and sea fishing can be found all along the coast with many boats available for charter all year round from marina locations such as Old Leigh, a charming fishing village, Shoeburyness, Canvey Island,  Wallasea Island, Walton on the Nase, Brightlingsea, West Mersea, Burnham and Bradwell  – each charter boasts great catches which includes Tope, Thornback Ray and Cod.

    Southend, Clacton, Walton and Harwich offer great Pier fishing and there are many beaches all the way along the coast – a good web site to visit is www.essextouristguide.com

  • Coastal & Riverside Walks

    The coast is rich in bird life, particularly marine birds that live or over winter on the extensive salt marshes. Winter walks along the seawall can be both bracing and fascinating. Both the RSPB and Essex Wildlife Trust have reserves near the water.

    Discover Essex in your walking boots and burn off a few calories while exploring the county’s historic towns and charming villages. Look out for buildings dating back to the 17th century as you tackle the 20 mile Colne Valley Way and accompanying Colne Valley Walk – or admire the real-life version of Constable’s river scenes with a walk along the River Stour. The East Coast line offers a beauty of its own having many available waterside walks. Another good place to meet is Paper Mill Lock at Little Baddow where one can discover the River Chelmer either on foot or by river-boat. Trails take you all the way along the river up to Heybridge Basin.

  • Seal Watching Off The Essex Coast

    ‘Lady Essex’ offers seasonal sightseeing trips; picking up from Wallasea Marina and Burnham Town Quay, running trips to either one of two seal colonies. They aim to arrive with the seals at various states of the tide and fully expect to see seals hauled out on the banks as well as in the water. The seals will come surprisingly close to the boat.

    On quite a number of these trips, an expert guide from the RSPB accompanies ferry passengers and provides a very interesting and enlightening commentary. The guide on the Lady Essex will also point out all of the different bird species that you will see. As well as Common seals and sometimes Atlantic Grey seals they have also encountered Harbour Porpoise.

  • Seafood Sheds & Waterside Restaurants

    For those who enjoy eating out there are a variety of waterside hostelries such as those at Burnham Fambridge, Heybridge Basin, Maldon, West Mersea, Wivenhoe, and Clacton. Visiting yachtsmen are always welcomed by the many yacht clubs along the coast. Some have a bigger menu choice than others! Other favourites include Le Talbooth Restaurant for fine dining whose terrace faces directly out over the Stour, The Boat House in Dedham, where Clinker built rowing boats can be hired, The Pier at Harwich, and good waterside pubs can be found in numerous locations which include The Mistley Thorn (at Mistley) and The Jolly Sailor in Heybridge Basin. But these are just a few of many. For those who adore fresh fish and shell fish, must visit the famous Cockle Sheds at Old Leigh, Near Southend on Sea or West Mersea where there is The Oyster Bar and The Company Shed which has been widely televised as a ‘must place’ to go and The Victory Inn which also stands along the same stretch.

  • Maldon Sea Salt

    For those who enjoy eating out there are a variety of waterside hostelries such as those at Burnham Fambridge, Heybridge Basin, Maldon, West Mersea, Wivenhoe, and Clacton. Visiting yachtsmen are always welcomed by the many yacht clubs along the coast. Some have a bigger menu choice than others! Other favourites include Le Talbooth Restaurant for fine dining whose terrace faces directly out over the Stour, The Boat House in Dedham, where Clinker built rowing boats can be hired, The Pier at Harwich, and good waterside pubs can be found in numerous locations which include The Mistley Thorn (at Mistley) and The Jolly Sailor in Heybridge Basin. But these are just a few of many. For those who adore fresh fish and shell fish, must visit the famous Cockle Sheds at Old Leigh, Near Southend on Sea or West Mersea where there is The Oyster Bar and The Company Shed which has been widely televised as a ‘must place’ to go and The Victory Inn which also stands along the same stretch.

  • Sails and Saddles

    For those who are looking for the ultimate property in order to accommodate outside sports from sailing to country pursuits such as horse riding, then Zoe Napier Coastal & Waterside (the Waterside Homes Network Member Agent covering the Essex coastline) also has a ‘sister’ web site www.inthecountryside.com It is quite possible in Essex to combine all your hobbies, from beach riding to fishing and partaking in country sports to ‘playing’ on the water with a motor boat; all of which is within daily commute of the City, if needed.  We are here to help you make that ‘lifestyle’ move.

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