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9 beautiful winter walks in Essex with cosy pubs along the way

12:39 19 December 2016

'Essex Sunrise', andyfpp, Flickr CC 2.0

'Essex Sunrise', andyfpp, Flickr CC 2.0

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From woodlands and nature reserves to Dedham Vale, we pick 9 perfect places for countryside walks plus some of the best cosy pubs along the way

'Sunset at the Windmill', Mark Seton, Flickr CC 2.0'Sunset at the Windmill', Mark Seton, Flickr CC 2.0

1. Dedham Vale walk - Distance: 5 miles

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds that inspired John Constable to paint some of his most well-known landscape scenes with a walk around Dedham Vale and Constable Country. The rolling farmland and ancient woodland remain virtually unchanged even today and make for a wonderful photo.

Pub: Head to The Marlborough Head Inn in Dedham. The traditional pub boasts a log fire, two bars, a restaurant and real ales!

See the Route for the Dedham Vale walk…

2. Saffron Walden walk - Distance: 4 miles

This short walk allows you to take in the medieval delights of Saffron Walden with its rich heritage and beautiful old buildings. Walkers can also see the picturesque Audley End House and take some time exploring its surrounding grounds and gardens.

Pub: Nestled in the heart of Littlebury, The Queens Head Inn is a cosy 14th century coaching house full of period features. Warm up by the fire with a drink from the well stocked bar or treat yourself to some fresh fish with the ‘Catch of the day’ meal.

See the route for the Saffron Walden walk…

3. Mountnessing walk - Distance: 4 miles

Explore some of the ancient settlements of Mountnessing with this meander past Mountnessing Hall, an iron church and the timeless charm of the village windmill.

Pub: The Prince of Wales in Mountnessing specialises in real ales and hearty pub grub. The friendly atmosphere ensures all guests feel like a part of the village. So you can sit back, relax and keep warm by the fire.

See the route for the Mountnessing walk…

4. Widdington walk - Distance: 3 miles

Let the old manor houses and medieval barns of Widdington – located in the north-east of Essex – reveal the beauty and history of this corner of the county.

Pub: Real ale fans will enjoy a post-walk visit to The Fleur De Lys. A long-standing entry in the Good Beer Guide, the free house offers a selection of draught guest ales plus East Anglian favourites Woodfords Wherry and Adnams bitter.

See the route for the Widdington walk…

5. Upshire nr Waltham Abbey - Distance: 5 ½ miles

This hilly walk can be completed in about 2 hours and passes through sections of Epping Forest, Warlies Park and Copped Hall Park. The route is can get a bit muddy if there’s been a lot of rain but the scenery provided by the ancient woodlands in the heart of rural Essex more than makes up for it - you might even spot a deer or two.

Pub: There are two lovely family-run, country pubs to stop at along the way, Good Intent in Copthall Green and The Horseshoes in Upshire.

See the route for the Upshire walk here…

6. Old Harlow walk - Distance: 3 miles

Mention Harlow and many people’s thoughts will turn to the famous new town, but this walk explores the beauty of Old Harlow, with its authentic, village feel.

Pub: With a seasonal menu and a selection of real ales, The Queens Head is an ideal pit stop for weary walkers.

See the route for the Old Harlow walk…

7. Epping Forest - Distance: 5 miles

Seen by many as a green retreat from the stress of the capital, Epping Forest has a wealth of incredible history and character. There’s a myriad of short to long walks that are all perfect for the family whether you’re looking for a Sunday stroll or a more challenging hike.

Pub: The Forest Gate Inn is a 17th Century free-house sitting on the edge of the forest. It prides itself on being a traditional country local pub, with not a jukebox or fruit machine in sight emphasising the importance of conversation and getting to know the people you’re drinking with. The draught beers and real ales on sale are excellent too.

See a selection of walks through the forest here…

8. Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve - Distance: 3 miles

This is a fairly short, relatively easy stroll through the largest remaining water meadow in Essex. Take in the wonderful scenery along the banks of the River Roding and the surrounding meadows that are perfect for bird watching. The entire route is dog friendly so feel free to leave the lead at home and let fido stretch his legs.

Pub: Relax in The Two Brewers in Chigwell Row in front of the large open fire with comfy furniture and a well-stocked bar to boot. If you like cask ales, and fresh, simple comfort food, then you’ll be right at home here. Although not on the route, The Two Brewers is just an 8 minute drive from the Nature Reserve.

See the walk through the Nature Reserve here…

9. Roman River walk: Colchester - Distance 2 miles

There are many reasons to love Colchester, but what it is perhaps best known for is its incredible history and ancient connections to the Roman Empire. This walk takes in the breathtaking views of the local landscape through grassland and wild flower meadows all whilst exploring the heritage of the River Colne and the town’s ancient Roman walls.

Pub: The Fat Cat may be a little tucked away but it’s definitely worth the trip with its warm and friendly atmosphere and wonderful staff who never fail to make their guests feel welcome. There is a marvellous selection of locally sourced real ales all served from a traditional tap room.

The route for this walk can be found here…

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