THERE can be fewer things as bracing as a winter beach walk.

Many prefer the beach at this time of year than in summer. So before all our Essex spots are jam packed with day trippers and rubbish tippers, make the most of some serene landscapes and vast open natural spaces out of 350 miles of Essex coastline.

Here are five of our beach walk picks:

1. Frinton-on-Sea Beach.

Frinton is a wide sandy beach. It has a reputation for being a quiet resort, and has retained much of its Victorian charm, without being commercialised.

Behind the beach is an extensive promenade, lined with colourful, old-fashioned beach huts. There is also a grassy area, the Greensward, should the weather allow for a wintery blanket picnic. Dogs are banned from parts of beach from May 1 - September 30. (From seafront Warden Station below Connaught Avenue to public conveniences below Cambridge Road.)

2. Clacton-on-Sea beach.

Clacton conjures up images of the classic British seaside holiday. Not only does it have a pier, but there are plenty of amusements, cafes and entertainment should you wish to entertain the kids (or yourself). The beach itself is a good stretch of sand, and you can walk for miles along golden sand - all the way to Walton-on-the-Naze if you want to. There is also easy parking and plenty of amenities close. Dogs are not allowed on most of beach from May to 30 September inclusive.

3. Bell Wharf Beach, Leigh up to Thorpe Bay, and beyond…

If you are reading the Echo, there’s a good chance you are local to the area, so you’re most likely aware of our wonderful little beaches, (Leigh, Chalkwell, Westcliff Bay, etc).

But there’s nothing quite like blowing the cobwebs away and doing the full stretch from Bell Wharf Beach to Thorpe Bay Yacht Club, which will take on average about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Of course you could go even further if you’ve got the gumption, around to East Beach in Shoeburyness, which is a wonderful stretch and away from the hustle and bustle of the Golden Mile.

4. Bradwell on Sea

The landscape of Bradwell on Sea is a mixture of unspoilt mud flats, salt marsh, farmland and beaches. As you stand on the beach, behind you will be the 7th century Chapel of St Peter on the Wall, the oldest church in England.

The ancient chapel was built in 674 using the brick of the ruined Roman fort, hence ‘on the wall’. It is thought to have been used as a church up until the parish church of St Thomas of Bradwell was built in the 14th century, by which time it became a chapel-of-ease.

5. Canvey Island

If unfamiliar with Canvey Island, there is something quite magical and surprising about first stepping up to the sea wall and looking over.

It’s really quite breath-taking to suddenly see the wide expanse of water and the life coming and going up the Thames, and the views of Kent coast across the water, which you can see from the beach.

Follow the coastline and you will experience a bizarre combination of scenery - industrialism, concrete, tired British seaside fronts and stunning natural beauty.