1. Benfleet to Leigh

This seems like a barren and bleak landscape. It can appear grey and lifeless, even on a sunny day. But it is actually a dramatic and constantly changing environment. On this five and a half mile walk from Benfleet to Leigh, you can explore the tidal creeks, salt marshes, mudflats on the edge of the estuary. 

2. Danbury Woods

Explore the ancient woodland by walking a series of marked paths through the commons. You can follow a trail from Blakes Wood to Lingwood Common where there are amazing views over the Essex countryside.

3. Hatfield Forest

This forest in Bishop's Stortford has been created over years of careful cultivation. Traditional woodland management techniques have left a perfect habitat for thousands of species of wildlife and is a perfect place for a wander amongst the trees or somewhere for the kids to use up their energy.

4. Mersea Island

Mersea Island is the most easterly inhabited island in the UK, located 9 miles to the southeast of Colchester. It is situated in the estuary area of the rivers Blackwater and Colne and the only way onto the island is via the Strood, the only Anglo-Saxon causeway in England. There are various nature reserves dotted around the island and at low tide you can collect cockles, mussels, winkles and sea shells.

5. Roach Valley

The Roach Valley Way, a 23 mile circular waymarked walk passes through a variety of landscapes, from the ancient woodlands of Hockley in the west to the coastal margins of the Roach and Crouch estuaries in the south and north.

6. Burnham on Crouch and the Dengie

Bounded by the North Sea and the rivers Crouch and Blackwater, the Dengie is a beguiling mix of the country's richest arable farming, thatched and weatherboarded villages like the sublime Tillingham, and moody end-of-the-earth saltmarshes.

7. Wallasea Island

Jubilee Marsh, on Wallasea Island, was officially opened by Bill Oddie in September this year. The opening saw the completion of the first phase of the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast project, a beautiful haven for wildlife in the Rochford district. The land was originally farmland lying below sea level and increasingly difficult to defend from rising sea levels. Although the reserve is planned to be in development until around 2025, the RSPB welcomes visitors to watch birds and wildlife. 

8. Hockley Woods 

These ancient woods are accessed by small tracks off main roads but, once inside, it is easy to forget you are in a built up area. There are plenty of walks to be had around the woods with several different paths, of differing lengths, signposted.

9. Thurrock Thameside Nature Park

Transformed from a landfill site, the park now has a visitor centre and signposted walks with bird hides along the way. With plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, those more interested in mechanical that natural can also see ships passing the park along the Thames. 

10. Harwich Maritime Trail

The maritime town of Harwich stands at the tip of a peninsula in north east Essex commanding the entrance to a magnificent harbour, where the Orwell flows down from Ipswich to meet the waters of the Stour that flow from Constable Country. There are fine views over the busy harbour, especially from The Ha'penny Pier, with vessels of all shapes and sizes constantly moving.

  • To see more suggestions, and routes, go to the Visit Essex website. 

- Where is your favourite place to walk and why? Add your suggestions in the comments below.