Discover unspoilt nature on the Essex Coast

With more than 350 miles of coastline, Essex has wonderful nature reserves, islands, mudflats and coastal walks that attract vast numbers of seabirds and interesting wildlife. This trip is a spring focus on reconnecting with nature, exploring the outdoors and seeing a very different side of Essex, away from the Southend and Clacton hotspots.

There’s the opportunity to try local food and drink, oysters on Mersea Island (the best kept secret in Essex), visit Clayhill Vineyard and sample its wines, sail on a Thames Barge cruise and showcase what’s easily and sustainably accessible right on the doorstep.

A suggested itinerary below to give you an idea of what you can do:

Day 1 Mersea Island

Head to Mersea Island, the UK’s most easterly inhabited island and known for its oyster beds which date back to Roman times, its outstanding scenery and untouched nature.

Lunch at The White Hart Inn

This historic pub dates from the 15th century, after a total refurb from the new owners in 2021, the pub is the heart-beat of West Mersea village, situated opposite the church. It prides itself on a seasonal menu with the freshest seafood and oysters alongside fruit and veg grown on the island.
West Mersea

Known for its oysters and crabbing from the jetties, there’s a great array of independent shops, restaurants and seafood shacks. Head to the front to see pretty, colourful beach huts, and sandy beaches.

Stay overnight at The Victory, Mersea
The Victory at Mersea is a friendly, family-owned pub offering luxury accommodation and great traditional pub food in a waterfront location. Enjoy stunning views over the Blackwater Estuary.

Day two

Breakfast at The Victory, Mersea

Head to Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

With the famous red lightship as a backdrop, walk along the famous Essex marshes and experience wild Essex at its best. Home to Yellow butterflies in summer, noisy Brent Geese in winter and Marsh Harriers. Take the permissive path to the bird hide at the lagoon to spot wildfowl and waders. Essex Wildlife Trust’s sheep, cattle and Exmoor ponies manage this marsh sustainably.

Drive to Chigborough Farm to check-in then head to Maldon.


One of the oldest recorded towns in Essex and home to the famous salt craft masters Maldon Sea Salt for more than 140 years, take time to scour Maldon’s high street with striking buildings like Moot Hall which dates back more than 600 years. Take a stroll in Promenade Park, on the banks of the River Blackwater, its water playground is a magnet for families in summer.

Topsail Charters – afternoon tea cruise (3pm)

Maldon is particularly famed for the remaining Thames Sailing Barges which cluster around the Hythe Quay. Originally there were more than 2,000 East Coast cargo vessels, only a handful survive including ‘Thistle’, built in 1895, and ‘Hydrogen’ built 1906. Board a two-island cruise from Maldon Quay, past Northey Island to Osea Island & back whilst enjoying a Cream Tea of freshly baked scone with cream and jam, tea or coffee.

Overnight Chigborough Farm – stay overnight on this 130-acre rural oasis on the outskirts of Maldon. Glamp in The Raft which floats on its own private lake and features a hot tub – the perfect balance of luxury and nature. Make the most of your time at The Raft and utilise their outdoor kitchenette equipped with gas hob, BBQ and fridge. Enjoy your dinner on the open-air deck overlooking the shimmering waters.

Day three Burnham-on-Crouch / Creeksea

Stroll a pleasant circular walk, the whole 5.5 mile walk allows you to see the entire town, from local parkland to the boats of the marina, along the quay beside the Crouch Estuary, to open countryside. Spot both grassland birds in the countryside and coastal birds including waders, gulls, ducks and little egrets. Enjoy lunch and wine tasting at Clayhill Vineyard.

Set in the heart of the Crouch Valley Region with commanding views over the River Crouch Estuary and the tidal Bridgemarsh lsland, Clayhill Vineyard creates award-winning wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Enjoy lunch and wine tasting with a bespoke vineyard tour.