Essex is often overlooked as a caravan holiday destination.

That’s a great pity. True, some western parts of the county have now become largely subsumed by London’s suburban sprawl but much of the coastline remains wild and beautiful.

If you’re interested in exploring this part of England’s coastline, some of the following might be interesting:

  • Entire generations of Victorian and mid-20th century cockney East-Enders regarded Southend as the perfect day out.

Today, it’s quite chic and has some really great Victorian seaside day-out attractions and associations. There are some fantastic amusement parks here and also some really nice cockle and whelk seafood – if you fancy a truly authentic cockney experience;

  • Walton on the Naze. This is another traditional seaside town with the second longest pier in the UK.

It has several sites of historic interest including a lighthouse and some cliffs that are designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) due to their fossils – note, it’s illegal to excavate or remove them! There’s a very interesting maritime museum. The surrounding beaches are lovely and the countryside is full of wildlife spotting opportunities;

  • Hamford Water. A little to the north of Walton on the Naze you’ll find this area of small islands and inlets. It’s marshy and tidal, with some of the best bird watching in the UK.

This is really wild and unspoilt beautiful coastal country. Note that at times, some parts of this large area are closed to protect nesting birds – check local sources at the time for details;

  • Don’t dismiss this as just a port. In fact, as a port, it has an ancient history associated with the Royal Navy. In more recent times though its role as a port has declined to being largely an occasional commercial Ro/Ro service.

Today, Harwich is a historic small and quaint town with some lovely old streets and buildings. It’s much smaller than you might imagine with a distinct earlier 18th century feel to it overall. There are lots of places of historic interest and a small but charming pier. Adjoining Dovercourt is also worth a look for its ancient lighthouses on the beach;

  • Manningtree and Mistley. Strictly speaking, these two small towns are on the river Stour rather than the sea but as they are both ports, they’re included here.

Don’t be put off by their outskirts which are pleasant but mainly residential. In the centre these are two charming little places with lovely views across and down the river. There are some very pleasant parks, petting zoos and countryside surrounding them – and remember to look at the vastly impressive Georgian Mistley Towers, they’re a remnant of an abandoned plan to turn the village into a major spa town.

This is also where 17th century Witch-Finder General Mathew Hopkins began his infamous career and where he’s buried.

A few quick reminders

The following tips are worth keeping in mind:

  • check that you’re fully covered by up-to-date caravan insurance – just in case;
  • remember that much of the Essex coast is low-lying and sometimes liable to flooding, though that’s not usually a summer issue. Even so, check your site’s flooding record carefully if you’re travelling out of peak season. Think also about all the usual good safety tips;
  • As in much of the south-eastern UK, try to avoid travelling on the Friday evenings of a bank holiday weekend or the Saturday morning of the same.
  • Make sure you have all your Caravan gear that you need such as air awnings.

Enjoy your visit to Essex’s lovely coast!