10 peaceful places in Essex where you can escape the crowds

PUBLISHED: 11:10 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 23 June 2020

Northey Island

Northey Island


The summer holidays means a rush of activity, so you might just be looking for places to escape to for a bit of tranquility. Holly Louise Eells picks 10 peaceful places in the county to provide a bubble of calm

1) Mersea Island

Essex is home to rural beauty, from stunning nature reserves to breathtaking coastlines. If you are looking to feel connected with the world and yourself again, Mersea Island captures all these aspects and is definitely one of those places to help you feel at peace.

This magical island is still home to traditional fishing businesses, boasting old-world charms and seven square miles of magnificent scenery. This charming area is even better when the day-trippers have gone home and you can really get lost in the restful surroundings, so why not stay a while?

Mersea Island

2) Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

Pets offer a perfect way to reduce anxiety and stress, so where better than Hopefield Animal Sanctuary for your animal fix? From residential donkeys, horses and reindeers to ferrets and cows, this Essex sanctuary has been rescuing abused, abandoned and neglected animals since 1983.

If you haven't visited an animal sanctuary before, give it a try and experience a rewarding feeling that is guaranteed to nourish the soul. With all of the craziness and stress that goes on in the world, there is something truly magical about spending time with innocent animals who want nothing from you than love.

Rescue animals seek to cook down in summer temperatures

3) Epping Forest

Despite its popularity, Epping Forest still offers so many beautiful secluded spaces where you can hide away among the expansive woods.

Steeped in history and made up of woodland, grassland, wetland and other beautiful habitats, every visit offers a different experience among the impressive 2,400 hectares.

Epping Forest

4) Northey Island

Whether you enjoy a brisk hike, prefer a gentler pace or simply want to be wowed by wildlife, Northey Island is a place to unwind. Perhaps the closest you'll get to true wilderness in Essex, this National Trust remote island in the Blackwater Estuary is the site of the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain and the surroundings are breath-taking.

Take advantage of other National Trust treasures in Essex too, such as Copt Hall Marshes, Hatfield Forest and Rayleigh Mount, to name just a few.



Some more places to visit in Essex:


5) Hanningfield Reservoir Visitors Centre

Why not get lost in the wild outdoors at Essex Wildlife Trust's wonderful Hanningfield Reservoir? Discover nature at its finest, providing panoramic views over the 870-acre reservoir offering a variety of beautiful walks through the woodland for you to visit bird hides, ponds and stunning sights along the way.

Don't miss Hanningfield's highly-recommended trails on the reserve to experience wildlife and walk off all that negative energy.

Hanningfield Reservoir

6) Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum

Good health incorporates our wellbeing physically, emotionally and spiritually, and it is vital for us all to acknowledge the need to look after ourselves. Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum offers so many beautiful surroundings for escapism and there are few better places for being at one with nature than relaxing at this Coggeshall venue.

The spectacular landscape at Marks Hall provides a rich diversity of habitats for a huge variety of different species, plus stunning ornamental lakes, woodland walks, striking views and much more to explore.

Marks Hall

7) Secret Beaches

You may have visited Essex's famous sandy beaches in Clacton, Frinton and Walton, as well as the much-loved pebbled beaches at Southend and Dovercourt, but have you ever discovered some of the county's secret beaches, which offer the perfect tranquil setting to unwind.

Worlds apart from the busier beaches, Brightlingsea is a small cinque port, seven miles from Colchester at the mouth of the River Colne. Well-known by local residents, it is largely undiscovered by visitors and particular out of season a trip here will definitely be good for the soul. Or try The Naze for its peaceful stretch of sand that is far away from neighbouring Walton-on-the-Naze.

Brightlingsea beach huts after sundown

8) Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

Nature can heal us like nothing else and exercising outdoors or being around animals is proven to have a positive impact on our health. Made up of 243 hectares, Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve really captures the sense of the wild.

Showcasing a stunning backdrop of the infamous red lightship, take a stroll along the renowned costal freshwater marshes, grazed by sheep, cattle and Exmoor ponies, offering an incredible wild Essex experience.

Tollesbury Wick

9) Beth Chatto Gardens

The award-winning Beth Chatto Gardens is the perfect location to embrace and soak up the beautiful aroma of fragrant flowers and stunning surroundings. This world-class setting encourages you to immerse yourself in its idyllic location and forget about everyday life.

This delightful botanical garden covers close to seven acres of assorted scenery guaranteed to take your breath away and re-energize you.

Beth Chatto Gardens

10) Shoeburyness Beach

Southend is well known for its sandy beaches and lively cultural scene, making it a popular spot. So for a nearby relaxing haven to swim and chill with friends and family, Shoeburyness Beach (Shoebury Common) is the place to be.

The Blue Flag beach is recognised for its water quality, beach cleanliness and safe pedestrian areas. This sand and shingle beach is within walking distance of Southend and boasts a promenade backdrop, but feels a world away from the activity of Southend and is a perfect escape for peace and quiet.

End of the day. Shoeburyness Common Beach. 13 Mar'17


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