As England swelters in the hottest and driest summer for years, the exodus to the coast for the respite afforded by sea breezes becomes ever more tempting. The East Anglia coast is easily reached from London. Essex, particularly, remains under the radar when it comes to visitors. A visit to Essex will increase your chances of enjoying a spot of coastal solitude even during the summer. Here are four of the best Essex beaches in the United Kingdom.
4 Best Essex Beaches
The pristine one… Dovercourt
One of five Blue Flag beaches in the county, Dovercourt boasts two historic lighthouses, built here to guide vessels into the neighbouring port of Harwich. At low tide, the waves recede to reveal a causeway stretching out to the shorter of the pair. It’s a sleepy place, but perfect for a stroll and an ice cream. Harwich itself is a stone’s throw away, with a historic centre rich in maritime history. Don’t miss the chance to step aboard the LV18 lightship. It once broadcast pirate radio and the century-old Electric Palace Cinema, restored to its former glory by a dedicated team of volunteers and promoted by its patron, the British actor Clive Owen.
The foodie one… East and West Mersea
Separated from the mainland by The Strood and cut off at high tide, Mersea is the most easterly of Britain’s many inhabited islands. The contrasts between the two sides of the island are marked, though both have their charm. Cudmore Grove country park to the east is a delight for walkers, both with and without their dogs. West Mersea’s beach, lined with colourful huts, offers a more typical seaside experience an easy amble from the island’s famous oyster sheds. Sample the island’s Colchester Natives when the season begins in September. When they occupied the area almost two thousand years ago, legend has it the Romans said they were the only good thing to have come out of Britain.
The back to nature one… Walton on the Naze
The iconic Naze Tower balances precariously close to a coastline that’s been battered by the sea to within an inch of its life. The soft red crag and the London clay which underpins it are rich in fossils. It’s not uncommon to discover ancient sharks’ teeth amid the soft pebbles that litter the shore. Climb the eight floors of the tower which house an art gallery, museum and tea rooms before walking off your cake with a loop of the nearby nature reserve. Take a boat trip to Hamford Water for seal watching in season. Observe a plethora of resident and migratory birds making their home in this fertile wetland environment.
The kiss me quick one… Southend
Finally, let’s not forget the most famous beach resort in Essex. Home to the world’s longest pleasure pier, Southend has long been a place where London‘s East Enders have come to let off steam. The kids will love Adventure Island. The more sedate will prefer a ride on the trains which still shuttle to and from the end of the pier. The family friendly seafront is packed as it has been for decades, with arcades, fish and chip shops and kiosks selling sticks of rock and plastic windmills. These days, they’re interspersed with modern cafes making the best of the estuary views; Ocean Beach, Toulouse or Oyster Creek Kitchen all have a loyal fan base.