Explore The Essex Coastline – The Discovery Coast
Posted 29 June 2016
Curling and meandering for more than 570km along golden beaches, switchback creeks and ragged coves, the Essex coast is the by far longest of any English county, aswell as one of the most beautiful and different. Despite its closeness to The City of London, Essex’s Discovery Coast is a truly a national treasure.
Best known resorts like Clacton-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze, with their gently sloping sandy beaches and traditional pleasure piers – but even here there are plenty of things that will surprise you. At over 2 kilometres, Southend’s pleasure pier is the longest in the whole world. Clacton’s beach has won several much sorts after Blue Flag awards and is prized for its water activities Walton on Sea is as much about fossils as family fun. For another surprise, head a little further down the coast to the quiet and tidy town of Frinton-on-Sea, which has one of the area’s most beautiful beaches.
The Discovery Coast is also known for its great history. From Maldon, home to the well-respected brown-sailed Thames Sailing Barges that once took goods along the east coast to the City, to Old Leigh. Other historic spots here include the yachting club of Burnham-on-Crouch, the tiny sailing town of Brightlingsea, and Harwich, where hidden away from the port area, with its massive cranes, ferries and cruise ships – you’ll find a hive of medieval streets littered with listed buildings.
Lap up the tranquillity in the tiny Saxon chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell-on-Sea, one of the oldest buildings in Essex and in fact, England. Set in a remote spot on the lonely Dengie Peninsula, this is a lovely place to encounter the vast saltmarshes and shiny mudflats that make up so much of the Essex coastline.
Once the place of smugglers and oystermen, these valuable habitats are today home to many of seabirds and dotted with important nature reserves. You’d have trouble to find a smuggler here nowadays, but oyster fishing still thrives in the area, particularly around Mersea Island. Here, the prized Colchester Native oyster flourishes in the rich mudflats that stretch along the shoreline.
For true seclusion, go for the tiny, privately owned Osea Island, where the postman only delivers at low tide. You may see a small population of seals on the estuary here. Take a seal-spotting tour from Burnham-on-Crouch or along the Walton Backwaters. These backwaters sum up the spirit of Essex, where tides rule and humans and nature exist in harmony under blue skies.