In light of our popular blog post about the best walks in Essex, we decided to take a closer look at one of the longer routes running through the county that we didn’t mention.
Our previous post talked about some shorter walks in the Great Dunmow area from 3.5 to 7 miles long, ideal for anyone who wants to complete a more casual route. In contrast, The Essex Way spans most of the county and offers more of a challenge to avid walkers.
The Essex Way is an 81 mile walk that runs from Epping’s train station and central line tube stop to the port of Harwich on the Stour estuary.
Although the official start point of this walk is at Epping, the walk is signposted in both directions meaning you could also start from Harwich.
Essex Walks decided to tackle the walk backwards, plotting the route from Harwich to Epping in 9 sections ranging from 7.5 to 12.5 miles in length. Each start and end point is within half a mile from from public transport (a train station or bus stop with a regular service). There are also various pubs to grab a drink and some food along the way.
The Essex Way takes you through the Stour valley and Dedham vale, also known as Constable Country, so you can expect to see some picturesque views.
The walk came about when the Essex branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) funded a competition in 1972. The route was planned out by a group of students from the then Chelmsford Technical High School (now St John Payne) and won the competition.
The walk has since become very popular with both casual and serious walkers, and has even become a part of cross country relay races.
The walk was originally indicated with green CPRE Essex Way plaques, but have been mostly replaced by white discs with two red poppies from Essex County Council. The route is marked with these plaques on fingerposts, waymarkers, gates, footbridges and more.
Although the newer white signs can be seen along most of the route, on occasion you can spot one of the older green plaques.
It is also important to note that although the route is quite easy to follow, at some points of the year some of the Essex Way signage may be covered by growing vegetation. If you’re not familiar with the route it is advisable to have a map to make sure you don’t miss a turning.
Essexway.org.uk have created a guidebook pdf for the walk with lots of historical information about the areas the route leads through as well as points of interest. This guidebook is highly recommended if you’re looking to learn a little more about the county as you walk the way.
If you want to complete The Essex Way in one go as a challenge or walking holiday, or you’re not local to the route, Essex Way have also compiled an accommodation guide pdf giving you lots of options for where to stay along the walk.
As you’d expect from a walk of this length, it crosses paths with some other long distance walks in the county as well as many shorter routes. The longer adjoining paths are:
The Long Distance Walkers Association have put together their own extensive list of things you can pack, including what to take if you plan on camping on the route.
Refer to the full list for a comprehensive checklist, but here we have gathered some of the basics. Please remember to bear the time of year in mind and adjust your clothing choices appropriately.
Have you walked The Essex Way, or are you planning to? Let us know about your experience on this stunning long distance path.comments powered by Disqus
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