15 Best Walks in Essex (Hikes & Nice Walks)

15 Best Walks in Essex (Hikes & Nice Walks)

By will

Looking for the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

Then look no further than Essex, England – home to some of the most beautiful countryside walks in the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just out for a leisurely stroll, there’s something for everyone among the 15 best walks in Essex.

From ocean views to rolling hills, you’ll be able to enjoy some of Britain’s finest natural beauty while getting away from it all.

1. The Oak Trail Through Epping Forest

Path through Epping Forest
Photo by Malc McDonald

Epping Forest is one of Essex’s most remarkable natural gems.

The Oak Trail, a stunning path through the forest, takes hikers on an awe-inspiring journey.

A winding route that takes you through ancient woodland, it begins at High Beach in Loughton and follows a meandering track to Epping Station.

Here you can take a break and savor the sights of nature before continuing your journey.

The Oak Trail offers spectacular views of this ancient landscape as you make your way through the forest.

You’ll be surrounded by towering oaks and broadleaf trees as well as babbling streams and winding pathways.

Make sure to take in the sights; from early morning mist hovering over the treetops to birdsong echoing in the air, this is nature at its finest.

As you weave your way along the trail, take time to appreciate all that Epping Forest has to offer – it’s a true delight for those who seek freedom and adventure!

2. Hadleigh Castle And Thames Estuary Walk

Hadleigh Castle
Photo by Marathon

Next on our list of the best walks in Essex is the Hadleigh Castle and Thames Estuary walk.

This picturesque route takes you across a variety of landscapes, from rolling hills to sandy beaches, with plenty of opportunity for exploration along the way.

The walk starts at Hadleigh Castle, which was built in 1215 and is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

From here, you can take in stunning views of the Thames Estuary before heading off into the open countryside.

You’ll make your way through tranquil woods and pastures as you make your way to the coast.

Here, you can explore the beach and its many rockpools or simply relax and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

This route offers something for everyone; it’s perfect for a relaxed stroll or an invigorating hike depending on how active you’re feeling.

With its varied scenery and historical sites, this walk gives visitors an insight into Essex’s natural beauty while giving them a chance to escape from their daily lives.

So why not go out and explore this stunning area today?

3. Heybridge Basin To Osea Island

River footpath at Heybridge Basin
Photo by John Winfield

The 4-mile walk from Heybridge Basin to Osea Island is one of the best walks in Essex. It’s a great way to escape into nature, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The route takes you around part of the River Blackwater, so you can enjoy some beautiful riverside scenery as you go.

It also gives you the chance to explore some of the wildlife that lives in this area, with a variety of different bird species to spot along the way.

The walk starts by heading south out of Heybridge Basin, skirting around Goldhanger Creek before crossing the bridge over to Osea Island.

As you make your way along the coast, you’ll get stunning views out over the estuary and across to Mersea Island on a clear day.

After a while, you’ll reach Osea Island where there’s plenty of opportunity for exploring – with its sand dunes and marshes offering an exciting adventure for any age group.

There are also plenty of places to relax and take in your beautiful surroundings while enjoying a picnic or even well-earned ice cream!

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This tranquil walk is perfect for those looking for an escape from everyday life and reconnecting with nature – it’s sure to leave lasting memories which will stay with you long after your visit has finished.

4. Tollesbury Wick Marshes Loop

Tollesbury Wick Marshes loop is one of the best walks in Essex and a must-visit for nature lovers. Located off the coast of Maldon, this verdant marshland offers unparalleled beauty and tranquility.

With its winding pathways, lush meadows, and wildlife habitats, it’s easy to see why this area has become popular with visitors.

As you explore the marshes, you’ll be treated to stunning views of creeks, mudflats, and lagoons.

Bird watchers will enjoy spotting species such as avocets and redshanks while admiring the vast array of wildflowers that adorn the landscape.

The walk is also punctuated by quaint villages such as Tollesbury which have a unique charm all their own.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll or an invigorating hike, Tollesbury Wick Marshes loop has something for everyone.

From its immense natural beauty to its abundance of wildlife, this walk is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Immerse yourself in nature and create memories that will last a lifetime – make sure not to miss out on this incredible experience!

5. Bradwell Marshes Loop From Bradwell-On-Sea

The beautiful Bradwell Marshes loop from Bradwell-on-sea is a must-do for any keen walker.

This loop takes in the stunning marshes, dunes, and estuary of this region of Essex.

The first stop is the quaint village of Bradwell-on-sea which offers many interesting sights to explore, including the iconic lighthouse and two churches.

Meander through the streets as you take in all the sights and sounds of this charming village.

From here, head towards the stunning salt marshes on offer along this route.

These are a haven for wildlife; you may even catch a glimpse of some of the local birdlife that inhabits these marshes.

The views out to sea are breathtaking too and will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

As you make your way along these paths, take time to appreciate your surroundings – it’s easy to get lost in nature here!

Continue your journey by heading into the dunes, where you can wander amongst wildflowers or take a break by one of the many sheltered spots.

Take your time exploring; there’s plenty to see! When it’s time to move on, continue around the loop back towards Bradwell-on-sea, completing your journey with memorable views of both countryside and seaside landscapes.

6. Thorndon Country Park Loop From Brentwood

Thorndon Country Park loop from Brentwood is a fantastic walk that offers something for everyone.

The route takes you through a mix of woodland, heathland, and grassland, so there’s plenty to explore.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including rare species of birds and flowers, making it the perfect spot for nature lovers.

The views are stunning throughout the walk, with breathtaking vistas across rolling hills and lush countryside.

You can also take in an array of historical sites, such as Iron Age earthworks, old brick kilns, and ancient woodland. It’s easy to lose yourself in the tranquillity of this rural retreat.

You’ll find plenty of interesting sights along the way, from stately homes to traditional pubs – perfect for when you need to refuel!

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want some time away from it all, Thorndon Country Park loop from Brentwood is sure to exceed your expectations.

With its spectacular scenery and wide range of activities on offer, this walk offers something special that will stay with you long after your journey ends.

7. Flatford And Dedham

Next on the list is a stunning walking route that takes you through Flatford and Dedham in Essex. This picturesque walk offers beautiful views of the countryside, as well as a chance to explore two iconic villages.

You’ll start your journey at Flatford, where you’ll find a series of meadows and orchards, perfect for exploring and taking in the fresh air. From here, you can follow the River Stour out into Dedham Vale and take in some of the best views in Essex.

As you wander along this tranquil path, you may spot some wildlife such as kingfishers or even otters if you’re lucky!

The route also passes through several historic sites including a 14th-century church, an old mill house, and a windmill which was built in 1824.

The path then continues on through pretty villages before returning to Flatford. Here you have the option of stopping for lunch or simply admiring the views across the meadowlands.

This lovely walk is sure to provide an escape from everyday life and allow you to reconnect with nature. It’s a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and discover some of the hidden gems that Essex has to offer!

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8. Tollesbury Wick Marshes Circular

Tollesbury Wick Marshes Circular is an idyllic and tranquil walk that offers a wonderful escape into the countryside of Essex.

Situated in the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater, this picturesque route is a great opportunity to take in the stunning nature of East Anglia.

The stunning landscape includes open marshes, meadows, and fields, as well as a variety of wildlife including birds and wildfowl.

The circular route takes you around the perimeter of Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve, with views across the river to Osea Island.

There are plenty of opportunities for birdwatching along this peaceful walk, as well as wildlife spotting in and around the marshes.

The reserve has some interesting features such as old wooden bridges, dykes, and sluices which make for an interesting journey along the way.

As you wander through this tranquil landscape, it’s easy to forget all your troubles and just enjoy being immersed in nature.

This walk is a perfect way to get away from it all and relax with friends or family while taking in some truly breathtaking scenery.

9. Papermill Lock

Papermill Lock is a beautiful spot in Essex for a leisurely walk or even a full-blown hike. Located along the Western bank of the River Roding, it’s one of the best spots to take a break from city life and enjoy nature at its finest.

The area boasts a plethora of wildlife, with plenty of birds to spot. From herons to kingfishers, the birdlife here is truly captivating.

There are also lots of fish in the river and an array of water plants that you can explore while you’re there. Plus, if you’re lucky enough, you may even spot an otter or two!

As you wander along the bankside path lined with trees and shrubs, you’ll come across Papermill Lock itself – a picturesque lock system located between Bridge Mill Weir and Two Tree Island Weir.

It’s also one of only two surviving lock systems on this stretch of river!

Here, why not pause for a moment to take in the tranquil beauty around you?

With its peaceful atmosphere and stunning views over the river, it’s an ideal place to relax and unwind.

10. Sea Lock Walk

The next step of your Essex adventure takes you to the Sea Lock walk.

Get ready to experience a unique blend of history, nature, and adventure! The walk begins at Heybridge Basin, home to an 18th-century lock system. As you make your way along the towpath, you’ll take in the picturesque views of the River Blackwater and its surrounding countryside.

The path is lined with trees and shrubs, making it a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

As you go further along the route, you’ll find yourself walking alongside an old railway line that once served as a crucial transportation route for local goods and services.

You can even spot some remnant signs from this era dotted along the path. This section is especially popular among hikers and cyclists due to its scenic views and varied terrain.

It’s also a great place for birdwatching – keep your eyes open for other wildlife too! To end your journey, enjoy a picnic or relax in one of the nearby pubs or cafes before heading back home.

11. Bedfords Park

Bedfords Park is an ideal place for a walk. Surrounded by stunning woodland and meadows, this beautiful park offers something for everyone. It’s a great spot to take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

The park has several trails that can be tailored to suit your individual needs. There are a variety of routes offering different experiences each time you visit.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating hike, Bedfords Park has something for you.

The trails range from easy walks through the tranquil meadows to more challenging hikes along the wooded hillsides.

You can explore ancient ruins and admire the wonderful wildlife that inhabits this area.

You can also enjoy spectacular views of London from certain parts of the trail – it’s like having two parks in one!

With its abundance of natural beauty, Bedfords Park is sure to leave visitors feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after their walk. So why not make it part of your next Essex adventure?

12. Burnham-On-Crouch

Leaving Bedford Park, the next stop on your Essex walking tour is Burnham-on-Crouch. This charming seaside town located on the banks of the River Crouch will not disappoint.

Its vibrant cobbled streets, quaint little shops, and friendly locals make it a great spot to explore on foot.

You can start your journey at the marina, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the river and boats bobbing in the water.

From there, take a stroll along The Strand and admire its unique mix of traditional English architecture.

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You’ll also find plenty of quirky little cafes and pubs here that are perfect for taking a break during your walk.

Heading south along The Strand takes you to Burnham-on-Crouch’s picturesque beachfront.

Here, you can take in spectacular views of the North Sea while enjoying a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.

Whether you’re looking for an invigorating hike or just a peaceful walk, Burnham-on-Crouch has something for everyone to enjoy.

With its stunning scenery and easy access to local amenities, it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore Essex’s best walks.

13. Wat Tyler Country Park

Wat Tyler Country Park is a stunning place for a walk. Located in Essex, it’s within easy reach of London and the Southeast, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.

From the moment you arrive, you’ll be instantly surrounded by nature – from grassy meadows to stunning lakes, there’s plenty to explore here.

The park has something for everyone; whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, you’ll find plenty of trails to suit your needs.

There are also plenty of activities on offer including fishing, birdwatching, and horse riding. Plus, with its close proximity to the Thames Estuary, there are some great views across the water too.

So whatever type of outdoor adventure you’re after, Wat Tyler Country Park is sure to have something special in store.

14. Hatfield Forest

Hatfield Forest is a stunning natural gem located in Essex, England. It’s been around since the Norman Conquest and is part of the National Trust.

The forest has a variety of walks, from short strolls to longer hikes, all of which provide an unrivaled experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely wander or a challenging hike, Hatfield Forest has something for everyone.

The forest offers up a plethora of beautiful sights including ancient oaks and wildflowers – perfect for those who love nature photography!

There are also plenty of birds and animals to spot along your journey – making it an ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy some peace and quiet.

And if you’re feeling adventurous there’s even a tree-top walkway that takes you up high into the canopy.

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Hatfield Forest provides the perfect opportunity for exploration and reflection.

With its lush greenery, wildlife, and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder why this is one of Essex’s best walks. So go on – take a break from reality and be inspired by the beauty that this magical place has to offer.

15. Nirthey Island Circular

For explorers seeking an even greater journey, a visit to Nirthy Island Circular is a must. Located in the River Crouch estuary, it offers some of the most stunning views Essex has to offer.

From the shoreline to the sea, there are plenty of natural wonders to explore and experience.

The circular walk takes you along the banks of the river and through mud flats, marshlands, and salt marshes.

As you make your way around the island, you’ll come across many different species of birds that call this area home including oystercatchers and curlews.

Along the way, you’ll also catch glimpses of rare plants such as heath grass, which blooms in springtime.

You may even spot seals or other marine mammals swimming in the waters nearby! The views from atop Nirthy Island are incredible too – with far-reaching vistas across Essex’s countryside and coastline.

This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get away from it all and take in some truly spectacular sights while walking in nature’s embrace.

Whether it’s a day trip or something more ambitious, Nirthy Island Circular promises an unforgettable experience of Essex’s wildest beauty.

With its unique landscape and abundance of wildlife, it is sure to inspire those looking for something special amidst nature’s wonders.

So why not take a break from your everyday life and venture out into this tranquil corner of Essex? You won’t regret it!

Best Walks in Essex – Final Thoughts

The beautiful county of Essex has so much to offer for those wishing to explore the great outdoors.

From the Oak Trail through Epping Forest to the circular walk around Nirthey Island, there are plenty of walks and hikes to get your blood pumping.

No matter what level of hiker you are, there’s something for everyone in Essex. You can take a leisurely stroll along the Thames Estuary or challenge yourself with a loop around Bradwell Marshes.

You can even take a trip back in time with a visit to historic Hadleigh Castle.

Essex is an amazing destination for any outdoor enthusiast. With its diverse terrain and stunning views, it’s the perfect place to wander, explore and discover something new.

So why not grab your hiking boots and head out into this wonderful county? You won’t regret it!


What are some easy walks in Essex?

Some easy walks in Essex are Bradwell Cockle Spit, Thrift Wood, and Aubrey Buxton.

What are the best circular walks in Essex?

Some of the best circular walks in Essex are Roman River Valley, Weald – Navestock, and Cudmore Grove.

What are some good family walks in Essex?

Some good family walks in Essex are Galleywood Common Play Trail, Paper Mill Lock, and Great Notley Country Park.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.