Colchester is the best place to hear nightingales sing after dark

Kayak at Colchester and around Mersea, swim between flowering water lilies in the Stour, or watch barn owls hunt at night over the River Colne.

Secret beaches and sunken isles – Colchester

river and brooks

miles of coast

places to launch a canoe

Wild swimming at Colchester off Ray and Pewit islands.


Swimming, hiking, cycling. The causeway – the Strood – onto the island floods twice a day. A round barrow near the Strood was discovered containing the remains of a cremated adult in a glass urn. It can be seen in Colchester Museum.

Ray Island

Ray Island is one of the only places in England where its possible to dive into salty waters from grassland without having to climb over a sea wall.

Pewit Island

Swim around one of the largest colonies of roosting ringed plovers.
Access to the water from the footpath around Mersea Island.

Wild camping, tramping and sleep – Colchester

years of oyster farming

miles of footpath

Places to wild camp

Wild camp in Colchester around Mistily Quay’s extended foreshore, or hammock in the willow overhangs on the fresh River Colne.

Mistley Quay

Footpaths out from the harbour village provide numerous opportunities to find a peaceful camp.

Stour Valley Path

Both the Stour Valley Path and Essex Way provide paths along which to find a wild camp in wooded groves and marshy foreshore.

River Colne

Watch barns owls and kestrels feed at dusk. Walk out from the marshes into the grassy Colne Valley to find sleep Alternatively, arrive after dark on the tidal foreshore to set up a to bivvie.

Wicked wildlife – Colchester

Walk over heathland, sample the sound of unique saltmarsh, and birdwatching at Abberton.

Fingringhoe Wick

The best place in Britain to hear nightingales.
The saltmarsh is awash with bouquets of purple sea lavender flowers by the time the birds have gone in early summer.

ABberton Rerervoir

The UK’s main wildfowl ringing station. Public access to the water’s edge from the causeways where fishing is allowed by permit.

Tiptree Heath

Heather and bent-grass heathland. Bracken, birch and gorse fill the gaps between the open ground where raptors fall on mice and voles.

Beacons and sacred places – Colchester

Britain’s most famous myth alive and well in Colchester, a plaque to England’s most devastating earthquake, and ancient earthworks trapped inside a Royal Forest.

Wormingford Church

There is sand bank at the ford over the River Stour, in Church Road. Legend states the patron saint of England, St. George, famously killed his dragon (worm) at this ford. A mound in the village is where the beast is said to be buried.

St. Nicholas Church

The tower contains a brass plaque commemorating the earthquake in Essex that damaged more than 1,000 buildings. The church was one of those destroyed and it was rebuilt in 1886.

High Wood Country park

Ancient earthworks indicate that this elevated location was once of some holy significance. Like much of the Essex high ground, it was enclosed within the Royal Forest of Kingswood.

Ruin and ancient – Colchester

Dinosaur eggs at Colchester. If you think that unlikely, I’ll get more realistic. How about native hippos, and 300,000 year old mammal bones?

Coopers Beach

Fossilised hippos dating back 125,000 years have been found at a sand filled channel around East Mersea.

Roman Walls

Colchester’s wall is infilled with sectarian nodules – those things the ancients thought were dinosaur eggs. They are found locally in London Clay. The wall dates to the late 3rd century, the eggs… a lot earlier.

Cudmore Grove

The foreshore and cliffs feature 300,000-year-old gravel left behind when the rivers Thames and Medway that once flowed here. Mammal bones can be found on the beach from the period, as well as some more of those hippo bones.

Food and sleep – Colchester

Colchester’s wildest food, drink and slumber.

Le Talbooth

Ok… it’s not cheap. But arriving for lunch beside the Stour by canoe beats a horse drawn carriage ever time (my wife does not agree – even though I married her here).

Donkey & Buskins

Relaxing after a long day trekking around the Roman River. Some quiet nooks and crannies to slumber over dinner.
Layer Road, Layer de la Haye, Colchester, Essex.

The Purple Dog

42 Eld Lane, Colchester, Essex.

The Sun Inn

3 Feering Hill, Feering, Colchester, Essex.

The Wooden Fender

Colchester Road, Colchester, Essex.

The Red Lion Pub

130 Coggeshall Road, Colchester, Essex.

Talks, workshops and Essex tours

Workshops for schools, scouts, guides, community groups or businesses. Learn how to wild camp and forage, or where to hike, canoe and cycle in Essex. Also, talks on the unique history of land ownership in Essex, and how to enjoy the outdoors by understanding all the laws of access.

Phone – 07947 160007

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