Campus is great and all but sometimes it is nice to escape and explore. Now I am not going to deny that Essex (as in the county of Essex) has a reputation, but who would have thought that there is more to Essex than fake tan and the Sugar Hut? In fact Essex is a hugely diverse place in which 90% of its residents do not conform to the typical stereotypes.
So I recommend that you get exploring this fine county to see what it really has to offer:
History lovers- Satisfy those cravings with castles, stately homes and old buildings!
Layer Marney Tower– A short distance from Colchester, Layer Marney is the tallest gatehouse in Britain and is part of a building that was meant to rival the famous Hampton Court Palace. King Henry the 8th once stayed here.
Audley End House– On the outskirts of the historic town of Saffron Walden, this Jacobean stately home is one of the grandest in the area.
Hedingham Castle– This wonderful castle is still owned by the descendants of the original owners and is over 900 years old!
Coastal lovers- Over 350 miles of Coastline leaves you spoilt for choice
Clacton– only a short bus or train ride from campus, Clacton boasts all the things that you would associated with a typical coastal town- it even has a really cheap cinema. The nearby towns of Walton and Frinton are a short walk up the coast.
Mersea Island– Cut off from the mainland at high tide, Mersea is certainly a gem in Essex’s crown. The area is famous for its oyster fishing and restaurants with fantastic walks and beaches on the Blackwater Estuary.
Maldon– The 75 bus will take you from campus to the historic market town of Maldon filled with a great variety of shops and history, but the Promenade Park on the banks of the Blackwater Estuary is a great location for a day trip.
Southend– Any visit to Essex should include a visit to Southend. A huge amounts of shops, arcades, a planetarium, the UK’s longest pier as well as the rides and rollercoasters of Adventure Island often means that a day in Southend is not enough.
Harwich– Easily accessible by bus or train, this North Essex coastal town is probably best known for the busy international port, but is also where the pilgrims built the Mayflower in order to set sail to America. It also has one of the oldest cinemas in the UK and the famous diary writer, Samuel Pepys, was the Member of Parliament for the town.
Countryside lovers – Over 3,500 square kilometres for you to explore!
The Essex Way– an 82 mile footpath from Epping to Harwich via the rest of the county. I’m not for a minute suggesting you should walk the whole thing, but you could do parts of it!
Hylands Park– Located on the outskirts of Chelmsford, the park is most famous for hosting the annual V-Festival. It is also a 574 acre parkland with a Neo-Classical villa in the middle (which looks a bit like the White House)
Epping Forest– the size of over 3,300 football pitches, this ancient forest covers parts of Essex and North East London and is a former royal forest before being “given” to the people by Queen Victoria. Now the largest open space in London, the forest is filled with fantastic walks and stories.
Tiptree Jam Factory– Tiptree is famous for potentially being the biggest village in the UK as well as the jam factory. The factory are the provider of jam and conserves for Her Majesty the Queen. You can visit the factory and look around the gift shop and museum before enjoying a well deserved cream scone in the tea rooms.
Quirky lovers- For something a little different to the norm
Greensted Church– Not the Greensted in Colchester, but the one near the town of Ongar which is the oldest and perhaps only church in England built out of wood.
Great Dunmow– This town is home to a strange competition called the Flitch Trials. The mock trials aim to find a married couple who have not quarrelled or repented their marriage over the last year with the winners receiving a flitch of bacon!
Maldon Mud Race– Begun as pub bet in 1973, the mud race has become a huge event in which competitors must race through the muddy River Blackwater at low tide… it is very messy stuff!
To be honest what I have written does not even begin to scratch the surface of things to see and do in Essex, but it is a good place to start!