To discover this sunny (and that's official) corner of south-east England, rent an Essex holiday cottage to see this land, bounded by the North Sea and Thames Estuary. Essex shares its ancient Anglo-Saxon origins between age-old woodlands, pastoral farmlands and busy estuaries. From the decorative Byzantine frescoes of Copford Church, and Layer Marney Tower, which has the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England , Colchester, the earliest Roman settlement in Britain, to the busy port of Harwich,gateway to Europe, and Stansted airport, Essex has seen it all. Forest walks, rides and glades for picnics, together with a lake are all to be enjoyed in Hatfield Forest. Visit Audley End House and admire the Adam-design Tea House Bridge, and Finchingfield, a real chocolate-box village - so don't forget your camera. Real history can still be seen at the medieval bridge in Pleshey, a village which existed long before the Normans arrived.
While known by many outside of the County as the bustling area with wild nightlife and extravagant characters due to certain popular TV shows, the county itself is actually a beautiful place steeped in culture and fascinating history. There are many delightful holiday cottages along the coast as well as further inland from which visitors will find plenty to see and do during a holiday in this fine and sunny county in the South East of England. Essex offers its visitors more than 350 miles of coastline, many ancient market towns, traditional villages and tiny hamlets nestled within the County’s rolling countryside hills.
Essex is also known as the ‘sunshine county’, with the Victorian village of St Osyth being recorded as the driest place in the UK. It’s great location has links to some of Europe’s most desirable locations, such as the City of London, and Cambridge, or, if you’re looking for something completely different, why not hop on the ferry at Harwich to spend a night or two in Germany and the Netherlands.
Essex is one of those England counties all too often overlooked by visitors – and that’s their loss. Whether for its culture, historical sites or its shoreline and seaside resorts, Essex is fascinating. There are many attractive landmarks to discover in the area. Southend-on-Sea is a great place to start, with its Pier, the longest in the world – you’ll need to take the train to get you to the end! Essex has some beautiful castles too, including Colchester Castle which is the largest Norman Keep in Europe.
The town of Colchester itself is known to be the oldest in Britain, but it also has some outstanding contemporary buildings too such as ‘firstsite’, a contemporary visual arts building with lots of exhibitions, a café and a local arts & crafts shop. Even if contemporary art isn’t your thing, it’s worth visit the building itself due to its fascinating and modern architecture that juxtaposes nicely with the nearby Victorian buildings.
There’s an abundance of activities to get involved in during your cottage stay in Essex. The Lee Valley White Water Centre offers one of the best places to experience white water rafting and is used by some of the Olympic kayaking team. For something a bit more relaxed, Great Notley Country Park has bike trails with links to over 15 miles of off-road walking and cycling routes. The park also has bike hire, so you don’t need to worry about bringing yours along with you.
For some retail therapy, head over to High Chelmer Shopping Centre in Chelmsford. It’s regarded as one of the biggest shopping centres in Essex, with over 80 stores, and one of the prettiest too, with the River Can flowing peacefully alongside it and a large open park nearby.
Being in a great position in the UK, Essex is home to some of the biggest festivals and events that run throughout the year. V Festival, hosted in Chelmsford, attracts over 180,000 each year and with household names it is widely regarded as one of the biggest music festivals in the UK. There are many more festivals too, including Chelmsford Blues Festival, Leigh Folk Festival and Colchester Food and Drink Festival - all of which will ensure a stay in an Essex holiday cottage will be anything but dull.