Essex villages perfect for a rural break

As the end of summer approaches, you might be thinking about taking a fall break.

And tourism bosses say you should look no further than the stunning villages and rural towns of Essex.

The tourism organization Visit Essex invites people to consider a stay in one of the county’s many postcard villages.

Mark Durham, President of Visit Essex, explained: “We are very proud of our beautiful countryside here in Essex. It may come as a surprise to many to find out that we pack so much into our beautifully diverse county.

“But, after a short break in Essex, I am sure you will find everything you are looking for – and much more – for a rustic country getaway.

“From quaint streets of colorful houses to riverside walks and beautiful roads through winding alleys and hidden villages, you can’t go wrong with a stay in this part of the world this fall.”

Here are Visit Essex’s top suggestions for enjoying a rural retreat …

Tiptree, Mersea, Tollesbury and Goldhanger

For those looking for a thrill on the water during their stay, there is plenty to do at Mersea Island Watersports as you explore the coves and small islands of the unique coastline. Try paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking or sailing.

Or, board the ferry on foot from Mersea Stone in Cudmore Grove National Park to Brightlingsea Harbor across the River Colne, where you can enjoy a lunch cruise, sightseeing tour from the harbor or a nature walk to further explore the area.

For those wishing to admire the water from the mainland, visit Goldhanger on the shore of the Blackwater Estuary between Heybridge and Tollesbury to enjoy walks in the surrounding countryside and along the sea wall.

Stop at the visitor center café at the Abberton Reservoir Natural Discovery Park, one of Europe’s main wetlands, of international importance as a refuge for wild ducks, swans and other birds aquatic.

Don’t forget to stop by Tiptree Tea Room and The Jam Factory to check out this great British achievement that has seen jars of produce appear in luxury venues around the world.

At Bouchon Brasserie and Hotel you will find a combination of original period features and classic-style decor in a 300-year-old grade II listed Georgian building that has undergone an extensive refurbishment program. has restored its former glory.

Guests can enjoy a relaxing stroll along the riverbank, take a boat cruise or hire a small boat to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Chelmer and Blackwater shipping canal.

Coggeshall, Earls Colne, Halstead and Cressing

If you love country lanes, chocolate box villages, thatched cottages and a wide variety of trees, this region is for you.

The outings are plentiful, with the East Anglian Railway Museum open all fall (weekends and Wednesdays during school holidays), with special events including Diesel Days offering unlimited rides on the vintage cars, pulled by a fleet of diesel locomotives or a vintage diesel train.

At Markshall Estate, discover the conservation landscape and surround yourself with nature or visit the National Trust’s Paycocke House and Garden to step back in time and observe Tudor life.

Rich in ancient history, the 13th-century moated medieval farmhouse of Cressing Temple Barns offers an enclosed Tudor garden to wander around and the famous Tiptree Cream Tea at The Barns.

Sip a glass of award-winning British wine at charming Tuffon Hall vineyard, before unwinding after a busy day at Wakes Hall Lodges, in the tranquil beauty of the Colne Valley, in your own self-catering luxury vacation lodge with bath hot tub, surrounded by 500 hectares of countryside.

Stay close to nature with a night of luxurious glamping in a romantic shepherd’s hut or glamorous yurt at Tey Brook Orchard, amid 20 acres of organic arable farm and apple orchard.

Great Dunmow, Thaxted, Finchingfield and Great Bardfield

Soak up the creative culture of Great Bardfield, where ceramist Grayson Perry grew up and absorbed his artistic legacy, or marvel at the traditional craftsmanship of pargeing at Thaxted.

The Forgotten Gardens of Easton Lodge, Grade II listed, are an idyllic haven partially restored to their former glory by a team of volunteers at Great Dunmow. Open every Thursday, the gardens are a must-see in any season, showcasing the large garden and Harold Peto’s treehouse.

The 15th-century Guildhall Finchingfield, set in the rolling countryside of one of England’s most photographed villages, has its own interactive museum, shop and library, all with free admission.

After all the sightseeing, history and culture, stop at Galvin Green Man for a pub meal with a twist, with panoramic views of the Essex countryside as you dine in its 14th century building.

Head down for a well-deserved rest at The Red Cow Crishall, where a 500-year-old thatched barn – considered the oldest in the village – and a former post office have been converted into luxury accommodation.

Dedham, Manningtree, Wrabness and Harwich

No trip to this part of Essex would be complete without a descent of the River Stour – March through October – from Dedham.

Marvel at Wrabness Beach recharging this fall, as Harwich Harbor dredged material will help put the tourist attraction back to its best.

You won’t be disappointed with dining at The Pier, a brasserie housed in a modernized 1860 listed building in historic Harwich. At the dock, you can expect an enviable drink list to accompany the coastal dining experience.

Taste Italy at Lucca Enoteca, with a famous cocktail menu, an all-Italian wine list and a lively atmosphere.

Settle in for the night at Mistley Thorn in the center of the historic coastal village of Mistley, with views from each of its 11 rooms over the Stour Estuary.

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Douglas Mackenzie

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