Not far east of Hullbridge on the south side of the River Crouch, I discovered glorious fields of sun bleached wheat, on a walk from Hockley. It was a stunning summer's day in 2010 and yet again I was fascinated by the way, in England, one could walk a short distance from a built up area and be in the middle of the countryside. Yet again Essex supplied a visual treat!
Rayleigh can't be classed as a tourist destination, but it is a nice place to stop if you need to do any shopping. What I like about Rayleigh is the way the high street leads the eye up to the Norman style stone church at the top of the low hill and the windmill near that combines to give the town a skyline of some photogenic quality. There's also an old 'round house' here with a thatched roof and an unusual tea shop. The town clock, established for the millennium, is quite a feature too. Overall, Rayleigh has a very nice vibe even though the locals probably don't think its anything special. If you're in the neighbourhood, drive through, or stop and help the local economy.
Castle Hedingham is a small village in the north of Essex, and, naturally, it has a castle. Not just a castle, but a fine Norman keep, on the top of a hill. It is in private ownership, but is open to the public every Sunday from April to September, plus some other days during the week at certain times in the summer - check their website for details.
The castle was built by the son of one of William the Conquerors knights in the 12th Century, and is still owned by a descendant after all these years. The de Vere family were high up in royal circles, and several English monarchs stayed at the castle.
In its heyday, the castle would have been much larger, but only the keep survives today. The adjoining country house was completed in 1718, and is used for weddings and corporate functions.
Terling is a small village just north-east of Chelmsford. Close to the cluster of houses lies Terling Place, home of the Stutt family for over 300 years. The Strutts have the family title of Baron Rayleigh of Terling Place. The most famous Lord Rayleigh was John William Strutt, the third Baron who was an eminent scientist, and won the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his discovery of Argon. Terling Place is only visible from the road to the east, and remains in the hands of the Strutt family. It is not open to the public. The church and green lie just to the north of the house. The church has a rather plain interior, but houses a number of monuments to the Strutts, and has a separate entrance and gate leading to the house.
This stunning piece of Tudor architecture is really only the gatehouse to what would have been an immense Tudor house but for the untimely death of the Lord and also his son two years later. The towers soar 80 feet (eight storeys), and you can climb to the top of one of them. The remainder of the house is not open, but there is a long gallery which is used for wedding receptions and other functions. There is also a rare breeds farm and the church is next door.
I have included a picture of a model of what the house might have looked like if it had ever been completed.
Entry is £ 3.50 for adults.
Dovercourt is definitely a "gentile" seaside town. You won't find much in the way of cafes or amusement arcades - as you can see in the picture - just a very good beach and plenty of open spaces. People retire to Dovercourt. People go for walks, along the beach with the dog, or along the front. The shops are a couple of streets inland, enough shops to get by, nothing to shout about.
The Essex coastline is not particularly inspiring, but when the tide is in and the sun is out it can be very pleasant walking along the sea walls along the estuary of the River Blackwater. In the summer there is always something to watch with dinghy races held at the numerous sailing clubs. In the quieter areas and in the marshy areas behind the seawall there is plenty for the birdwatcher to see .
This is a nature reserve I visited on my free time, not that lakes are rare for someone coming from Finland, but it was nice visiting here and see how things are in England, it was just a short visit this time, I’ll be back.
I was really surprised at the scale of the farming operations throughout our trip. Essex was no exception, with huge open fields just starting to spring to life wherever we went. However, most of these fields were very pleasing to look at because they covered rolling hills interspersed with thickets of trees. This scene was taken from seconday road B1039 near Wendens Ambo as we headed due west to find lodgings in Banbury, Oxfordshire. This was in the early afternoon and the temperature of 7 C was typical of what we had experienced to that point in the trip - damned balmy for a Canadian in February!
Tilbury Fort lies on the north bank of the Thames and was constructed in the latter quarter of the 17th century, replacing a small fort or blockhouse built during the reign of Henry VIII (c1539), to protect the approaches to the Thames, and London, from enemy shipping. It Fort is the best preserved example of 17th century military engineering in England and is preserved and run by English Heritage.
You can view more photos and information about this place on my Tilbury Fort page (www.virtualtourist.com/m/24c4e/4a434/)
Not far from the where I worked in Essex was the delightful Langdon Hills Country Park. Some colleagues took me up here in spring one day and it was a world away from the suburbs all around. There are trails through combined woodland and fields and views over the surrounding rolling lowlands. You can access the park from the Laindon Station (railway) which links to London, Fenchurch Street. Otherwise, by road from the A13 and through Basildon.
Maldon is a picturesque town alongside the Blackwater River, about 15-20 minutes drive from the county capital - Chelmsford.
A walk around the town must include a stroll along the river front, where some well known sailing barges, once a common sight on Essex waterways, are moored.
Maldon is not served by train, so you must have a car to get there. It is east of Chelmsford on the A414.
A warm and friendly welcome in this family run hotel,situated on the Sea Front at Thorpe Bay.It...more
It was only due to local knowledge that we found this place, as most maps including Google, seem to...more
This hotel seemed to have it all, all the facilities, two restaurants and conference facilities....more