Summer in Essex
PUBLISHED: 10:25 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013
With its coastline and countryside, Essex is at its best in the sun. Rachel Shuker turns the spotlight on five of our county's brightest towns to learn what makes them so special in the summer
MALDON A maritime district
BLESSED by outstanding scenery, acres of unspoilt countryside and a vast coastline, Maldon draws visitors in search of stunning beauty, quaint charm and rich history.
Most famous for its maritime heritage, it is understandable that the old port, Hythe Quay, is a popular spot with tourists seeking a glimpse of times gone by or to take to the water on one of the magnificent historic sailing barges.
The extensive coastline makes the district a paradise for sailors, water-sport enthusiasts and anglers. It also provides an array of activities for visitors. You can choose to take a boat trip along the Blackwater Estuary, stroll along one of the many coastal or riverside walks, or embark on one of the cross country cycling or horse riding trails. This idyllic location is also a haven for wildlife with a variety of rare coastal plants, while the grazing marsh at the Blue House Farm is home to many bird species including geese, skylarks and numerous divers and waders.
In 2009, Maldon is hoping for a bumper year for tourism as more and more of us choose to stay in the UK to holiday. A new website, www.visitmaldondistrict.co.uk, has also been launched to make it easier for visitors to research events going on in the Maldon district.
Chairman of Maldon District Council, Cllr Shelia Young, explains: 'Maldon is one of the best kept secrets in Essex and we expect this new site to play an important role in uncovering its many mysteries and promoting tourism in the area.'
There is certainly plenty for young families to enjoy in and around Maldon. The Promenade Splash Park has been a proud holder of the Green Flag award since 2001 and is open daily until dusk. This fabulous water fun park is always popular with tourists, but it is sure to be an even bigger hit this year as it is a free facility for children.
On Maldon's Park Drive you will also find Madison Heights, one of the largest entertainment centres in the south east with 22 ten pin bowling lanes, 16 snooker tables and an array of bars and restaurants.
Famous for Maldon is famous for its local food, in particular its oysters which have been harvested from the beds of the Blackwater Estuary since the 11th century
How to get there Maldon is located just 40 miles northeast of London
Did you know? Nationally, Maldon has been voted the third best market town in the country
Do not miss Absorb the character of this town at one of the local markets. On the first Tuesday of every month, the Maldon Farmers' Market is a celebration of local produce
Find out more Visit
or call the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre on 01621 856503
COLCHESTER AN HISTORIC TOWN
COLCHESTER welcomes millions of tourists to the county each year with its contrasting mix of attractions. Being the oldest recorded town in Britain, Colchester is awash with culture and heritage. Its colourful past dates back more than 2,000 years and visitors can learn about some of the most important events in British history at the town's Castle Museum.
Upon entering the museum, explorers find themselves in the county prison first used in 1226, before viewing the remains of the Temple of Claudius which was once one of the key Roman buildings in the country. Some say that touching the stonework of the temple is touching the very foundation of Roman Britain.
Throughout Colchester a selection of guided walks and tours gives visitors the opportunity to admire the scenery while discovering more of the heritage and character of the town. From nature walks to themed tours, there is something for everyone, including a selection of ghost tours following the stories of the legends and unnatural manifestations of Colchester's frightful past.
Surrounded by havens of luscious landscapes, Colchester is home to some world famous and award-winning parks and gardens. In Elmstead Market, on the outskirts of Colchester, you will find the Beth Chatto Gardens. Covering six acres, these spectacular water and woodland gardens have been moulded by the pioneering gardener, Beth Chatto, and are a favourite haunt of many television gardeners. Also on the edge of the town lies the High Woods Country Park. Once a royal hunting forest, the 330 acres boast a stunning array of wild flowers, lakes and ponds.
If you prefer to tour on two wheels, the View Finder Trail is a 17-mile cycle ride allowing art lovers the chance to take in the views of Colchester through the eyes of an artist. This summer, Colchester will also be welcoming the Cycle Tour Series for the first time. Tourism and visitor development officer, Karen Turnbull, explains: 'Colchester has always been known for its cycling but this is the first year that this set of cycle races will take place around the town. The town council hopes to attract tourists with various free events this year.'
Alongside the historical highlights Colchester has to offer, there are
fun-packed attractions for all the family. Colchester Zoo is one of the finest in Europe and also look out for the East Anglian Railway Museum and Rollerwrold in the town.
Famous for Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain when London was just a trading post
How to get there There are frequent intercity train services to Colchester from London and good access by road from all parts of the county
Did you know? More than 4.5 million visit Colchester every year
Do not miss Colchester Zoo attracts more than 500,000 visitors every year. Why not find out why?
Find out more Visit www.visitcolchester.com to find out more about free events and festivals this summer and other tourist information
SOUTHEND ON SEA THE SUNSHINE COAST
IN THE summer, Southend really comes to life. The focal point of the town is its iconic landmark, the 1.3-mile-long pleasure pier, which sees thousands of visitors take in the stunning panoramic views, magnificent sunsets and invigorating fresh sea air.
A stroll to the pier head, or a relaxing trip on the pier train, affords a selection of activities, from pleasure boat trips to sea fishing. At the entrance to the pier is the modern Pier Hill providing entertainment or a chance to go back in time with a visit to the Pier Museum.
Well known for its selection of beaches, from long sandy stretches to secluded havens, Southend has eight glorious beaches to choose from. Keen water sports enthusiasts can take part in various activities, including jet skiing and wind surfing, or why not sign up for a Try a Sport package designed specifically for those wanting a taster of a variety of water sports.
For a more sedate exploration of this fabulous coastline, embark on the Estuary Trail which takes walkers on a meander through the delicate cobbled fishing town of Old Leigh through to the quaint charms of Shoeburyness.
Although Southend is most famous as the home of the world's longest pier, a selection of tranquil nature reserves and grasslands are among its well-kept secrets. Visitors can choose to indulge in a spot of bird watching or trail into the undergrowth on one of the guided walks to get a glimpse of the rare species and diverse range of wild life.
Away from the beach, Southend boasts a variety of attractions including a number of museums and art galleries. It is also home to one of the biggest family fun parks in South East England, Adventure Island, which has more than 60 rides and attractions.
For evening entertainment, Southend offers a touch of glitz and glamour at the Cliffs Pavilion or Palace Theatre. With a mix of concerts and comedy, look out for forth-coming productions of Oliver!
and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
It certainly promises to be an exciting year in Southend as Scott Dolling, the town's group manager for enterprise and tourism, explains: 'We are expecting a very busy summer this year, and have therefore made developments to the town to increase the quality of our visitors' experiences. This includes new fine dining developments and the
2009 Feast of Festivals.'
Famous for Its pier, the longest in the world. Southend Pier was also given the title of Pier of the Year
How to get there Southend is well serviced by road and rail links and even has its own airport
Did you know? Between 5.5 and 6 million tourists visit Southend each year
Do not miss Adventure Island
and its choice of old and new fairground attractions
Find out more Southend has a busy events and shows schedule. Check the programme at www.visitsouthend.co.uk or
call 01702 215120
FRINTON ON SEA A TRANQUIL SEASIDE ESCAPE
Frinton on Sea is a contrasting mix of quiet secluded beaches and busy shopping streets. The one-mile-long sandy beach and promenade is what defines this small but idyllic seaside town. Frinton made a name for itself as an exclusive resort in the first half of the 20th century, attracting many illustrious visitors from high society.
The town has preserved its unique local character and the charms of a traditional English seaside resort, making it a refreshing change from modern day seaside destinations. The row of Victorian-style beach huts and lack of modern shops along the promenade allow today's tourists to soak up and enjoy the 1920s atmosphere, reminiscent of when the town was a favourite retreat for the aristocracy and even royalty.
The shopping street, Connaught Avenue, is named after the Duke of Connaught and was dubbed the Bond Street of East Anglia due to its chic and sophisticated shops. Nowadays the quaint cafes and restaurants offer a relaxing venue to taste some of the town's cuisine before browsing the modern shops and gift boutiques.
Although keen to protect this old fashioned charm, Frinton on Sea now offers a range of activities for visitors. Sailing and windsurfing activities are available for those seeking adventure or many choose to stroll along the promenade or sunbathe on the quiet, sandy beach. The grassy cliff tops offer the chance to relax and admire the outstanding sea views away from the beach and this famous Greensward also provides a wide open space for children wanting to play ball games or fly kites.
Every year the churches of Frinton unite to put on a week of events in a large marquee on the Greensward. This year the event will be held from August 1 to 9 offering activities for children, such as a bouncy castle and magic shows, and entertainment for adults in the evenings.
For more evening entertainment, try the Frinton Summer Theatre. Respected within the theatrical world for its top quality theatre productions, the group offers new plays every week covering a number of genres, from comedy to thrillers. This year the programme of plays includes Willy Russell's One for the Road, April in Paris by John Godber and Patrick Marlowe's Marsh House.
Sarah Daniells, Tendering District Council's tourism and marketing manager, is looking forward to a successful summer in all the Essex towns, including Frinton. 'Last season we ordered 25,000 brochures which lasted us all season. This year they ran out by April and we have been inundated with enquires about events and activities going on in the town.'
Famous for The Frinton Gates are railway gates described as a status divide giving residents living 'inside the gates' more status than those 'outside the gates'. The gates have been replaced by automatic barriers
How to get there There are only two ways into the town by road, but there is a railway station in the town
Did you know? The first pub to open in Frinton on Sea was the Lock and Barrell in 2000
Do not miss Frinton's beach which received the UK award for the highest water quality standards
Find out more For tourist information on Frinton contact the Clacton Tourist Information Centre on 01255 686633
BURNHAM ON CROUCH A WATERSIDE WONDERLAND
BURNHAM ON CROUCH is a quaint quayside town filled with historic buildings and set against the backdrop of fabulous natural landscapes teaming with wildlife. In contrast to its tranquillity and lush countryside, the town hosts an array of busy events and festivals, from art trails to amazing firework displays.
One of the main highlights of Burnham's annual calendar is the RIVERfest music festival, which takes place in June. RIVERfest co-ordinator, Dianne Defontaine, explains: 'We expect to see a lot of tourists this summer. The festivals which we hold draw in a lot of visitors and we especially think that tourism levels will be at their highest around the time of the music
festival this year.'
RIVERfest began in 1992 with a single day of music but has grown to become a month of live music and events. Headlining acts in 2009 include Saltdog and Baraka. Also in June (from June 20 -28) is the town's art trail which not only exhibits the work of painters and sculptors but also showcases carefully crafted works from artists and craftsmen who use an eclectic mix of materials including textiles, leather, pottery, wood, glass and silver. Pick up a copy of the 2009 Art Trail Guide at the town library, the Tourist Information Centre or the Burnham Museum.
One of the more traditional events held in Burnham stems from the town's maritime history. Burnham Week is arguably the longest-running annual yacht regatta in the UK and this maritime extravaganza includes yacht races, a parade of historic vessels and traditional stalls on the quayside. A spectacular music and firework display brings the week of events to a close in style.
Burnham's growth is thought to stem from the 13th century when it was first granted a charter to hold markets. Visitors are invited to explore more of the town's past at the Burnham Museum, or why not visit the medieval St Mary's
Church which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a smuggler?
Away from the town, you will find acres of unspoilt countryside. Take a stroll or enjoy a wildlife cruise along the river bank from the Marina to Holliwell Point, to make the most of these idyllic views and catch a glimpse of seals basking on the sandbanks or perhaps event brent geese gliding over the salt flats.
Famous for Sailing and the Burnham Week regatta that takes place at the end of August
How to get there Burnham is easily accessible by road and rail with a direct service from London's Liverpool Street Station
Did you know? Burnham is home to the oldest Marina in England
Do not miss The popular RIVERfest music festival offers a series of free family activities throughout June. Visit www.burnhamfestival.com
Find out more The One Place visitor information centre is located on the town's High Street. Call 01621 784962