Top Walks In Essex That The Whole Family Will LOVE

Family walking in the country.
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Going on countryside walks and exploring the beauty of where we live has been the highlight of most family's week since the lockdown was introduced.

Now we're able to venture as far as we'd like, let's make the most of the freedom by seeing what the rest of the UK countryside has to offer – starting with family walks in Essex.

Bourne Mill, Colchester

Bourne Mill is a National Trust site just outside of Colchester town centre and is steeped in history going back to Colchester's textile past in the 17th century. It's an easy 3-mile route but is one of the best walks in Essex for families because of all the history you pass along the way to talk about as well as the pubs for a pit stop. You'll stroll along part of the 39-mile long River Colne, pass plenty of ponds, Cannock Mill – another historic site – and then end up back where you started at the car park.

Where is it? Bourne Road, Colchester, CO2 8RT

Walk time: 1 hour 15 mins

Outdoor amenities: At least four pubs

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Yes, as it's mostly flat

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking? Yes

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? At the pubs

Danbury Common, Danbury

There are several walking trails within Danbury Common, near Chelmsford, so you can either choose to do just one or join them together for a long walk. These trails are what make Danbury Common popular with mountain bikers too. So there's Danbury Common to Lingwood Common (1.5 miles/ 1 hour), then you can continue on to Blake's Wood (3.5 miles/ 2 hours) and then walk back to Lingwood Common (2.5 miles/ 1 hour 30 mins).

The peaceful views and variety of wildlife that thrive within these different nature reserves are why families enjoy the walk so much. Blake's Wood to Lingham Common is where you'll find Nightingale birds and Woodpeckers plus lots of butterflies. The first leg of the walk you'll come across Spring Buell well, which has created a wetland attracting even more creatures.

Where is it? Danbury, Chelmsford, CM3 4JJ

Walk time: In total, 4.5 hours

Outdoor amenities: Pubs along the way

Is it buggy friendly? Not all areas – please check online

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Bikes aren't allowed in all areas – please check online

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? At the pubs

Dedham Vale and Stour Valley, Colchester

Dedham Vale is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty on the Essex-Suffolk border, between Colchester and Ipswich.  There are many walks and routes within this area of Essex countryside where you'll take in marvelous views of the Constable Country – the landscape that inspired the famous artist John Constable. There are also several options for starting points so you'll need to read local tour information before setting out.

What you'll see along the route is: Flatford Mill, the River Stour, Dedham village, East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary and Langham Church.  The routes are known to be very muddy in places, particularly after heavy rain.

Where is it? The address depends on your starting point

Walk time: 35 mins - 3.5 hours route dependent

Outdoor amenities: National Trust riverside tea-room and shop at Flatford, other shops and pubs at Dedham

Is it buggy friendly? Not all areas – please check online

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Not all areas – please check online

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes, at various sites

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? Yes, at Manningtree Train Station, Flatford and Dedham villages

Chestnut Trail route, Epping Forest

Just one of the popular family walks in this ancient woodland, the Chestnut Trail is ideal to do with young children because it's leisurely, well signposted and mostly flat with a few gentle hills. You'll follow the main tracks in Wanstead Park and some sections of open grassland where children can try to spot the Sweet Chestnut trees and native bluebell flowers. You might even find a Heron bird or two along the way at various ponds. For a 3.25-mile walk, this is a good one to start with. There are lots more trails in Epping Forest, if your family enjoys this part of the Essex countryside.

Where is it? Warren Road, Wanstead Park, E11 2LX

Walk time: Allow 2 hours

Outdoor amenities: The Temple visitor centre

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Yes

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes, at Warren Road

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? Toilets, including disabled access, at the visitor centre

Hatfield Forest, Takeley

Hatfield Forest has been described as "one of the finest and least altered survivors of the medieval forest of Essex". It's a truly beautiful nature reserve and conservation site with a stream, lake and lots of animals – big and small. The warmer months are best to enjoy Hatfield Forest as you stroll alongside the lake, marvel at the old trees, learn the nuggets of history in the area and hopefully, see some rabbits or deer. Expect an easy, flat walk of 1.7 miles.

Where is it? Bush End Road, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, CM22 6NE

Walk time: Allow 2 hours

Outdoor amenities: National Trust Lakeside Café

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Is it bike and scooter-friendly?  Yes

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes, take both cash and card to pay

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? Yes to both at the café

Roding Valley Meadows, Chigwell

"Roding Valley Meadows is a mosaic of herb-rich meadows, hedgerows, marsh, ponds, scrub and woodland," – how amazing is that description?! These woodlands are a green haven with so much wildlife and nature for children to be curious about.  It's managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, which has cows graze in the nature reserve, and different flowers makeover the grass in hues of red, purple, blue and white.

The meadows are a common Essex walk at 20 hectares and is a mix of surfaced and unsurfaced paths. However, the whole nature reserve is 65 hectares, so you can either extend your walk or revisit another time to take in more of the woodland.

Where is it? Grange Farm Centre, Grange Farm Lane, Chigwell, IG7 6DP

Walk time: Allow 3 hours

Outdoor amenities: Grange Farm Centre, picnic and outdoor play area

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Yes

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes, at Grange Farm Pavilion off the High Road, Chigwell and another next to the David Lloyd Centre, off Roding Lane

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? Yes, to both

The Essex Way, Epping Forest to Harwich

The Essex Way is an epic walk covering 82 miles from Epping, near London, to Harwich, a north Essex coastal town, but you can start the trail from either place. The route is beautiful and will guide you through ancient woodland, open farmland, tree-lined river valleys and leafy green lanes, descriptions say. You'll also digest lots of history as you walk and explore some of the most interesting areas of Essex.

There are plenty of walks to choose from if you want to tackle the Essex Way, it just depends on where you want to start from. It's also very accessible with travel links along the way and is relatively flat so just plan your route well with help from local websites and the many walking maps online to download.

Where is it? Epping Underground Station, CM16 4HW or Harwich International Port, CO12 4SX

Walk time: Depends on the route

Outdoor amenities: Several along the way

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Yes

Is it dog-friendly? Yes

Parking: Yes, but it depends on your entry point

Toilets/ baby changing facilities on-site? Yes, along the way

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

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