Find your perfect Rural Escape

Close to London, but worlds apart. It’s a little-known fact that over 70% of Essex is rural, a scenic patchwork of rich brown farmland speckled with pastelwashed villages of thatch and timber, the views interrupted by mighty oaks and ashes presided over by the hurrying skies. But what makes rural Essex special? Its climate perhaps, one of the driest in Britain, home to over 20 vineyards including one of England’s oldest, New Hall Vineyards? Or its villages, from Finchingfield, one of England’s most photographed, to Tiptree, hot contender for the largest? Maybe its culinary delights, Maldon Sea Salt and Colchester oysters, not to mention Tiptree jam? Explore our countryside and decide for yourself.

Close to London, but worlds apart. It’s a little-known fact that over 70% of Essex is rural – a scenic patchwork of rich brown farmland speckled with pastelwashed villages of thatch and timber, the views interrupted by mighty oaks and ashes presided over by the hurrying skies.

Family sitting by a lake having a picnic.
Picnic at Hedingham Castle.

Escape for a while and capture some memorable moments.

Explore rural Essex with Simon Calder

  

With today’s fast-track pace of life, it’s the perfect place to step away from the rat race and reconnect with nature. Far away from the image of white stilettos and the cast of TOWIE lies rural Essex. Shuffle through the leaves in the footsteps of kings on a family ramble through Epping Forest; cycle along narrow lanes through exquisite villages like Finchingfield and Stock, complete with windmills and duck ponds on the village green; or set out on a boat in search of seals at Hamford Water, as the gulls wheel and scream over the chocolately mudflats. Meet the natives of Essex! With eight RSPB reserves and 89 Essex Wildlife Trust sites, the county is blessed with rich and varied wildlife. While you’re about, sample some traditional Essex fare, get inspired in a dreamy country garden or try your hand at a new activity. The rural Essex you choose is just waiting to be discovered…

With today’s fast-track pace of life, it’s the perfect place to step away from the rat race and reconnect with nature.

Go explore and enjoy

Panoramic view of the Dedham Vale with boats for hire in the foreground.
The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, embrace one of our most cherished landscapes. Picturesque villages and a rich history that was immortalised by John Constable in his paintings over 200 years ago.
Colourful beds of flowers and shrubs in glorious sunshine.

The driest county in Britain, our gently rolling landscapes speckled with picturesque villages inspired many gardeners to work their magic. If you are seeking inspiration in Essex gardens, you will not be disappointed.

A young woman climbing up a wall.

Whether you’re a keen golfer, cyclist, love rambling, adrenaline-pumping white water rafting, or even just feel the need to get away from the urban sprawl for a short time, Essex is perfect for spending time in the great outdoors.

Don't forget to also enjoy ...

A mother and her small child are walking through a wooded area.
There’s no better way to explore our fair county than by pulling on some sturdy shoes and setting off, whether you choose a gentle stroll through a pretty village, or a more adventurous ramble into deepest Essex.
A father and daughter standing with their bike looking the sea in the background.
Eco-friendly, healthy and enjoyable, cycling is a great activity for all the family. Combine it with some sightseeing and you’ve got the ultimate day out – or even a whole holiday.
Two young women sitting on the lawn in front of the Discovery Centre having a picnic.

Nestled in a variety of landscapes, Essex’s country parks are the perfect places for the whole family to blow away the cobwebs, enjoy the simple pleasures and reconnect with nature.

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Browse our Nature Reserves

Blakes Wood

Chelmsford 01279 870678

 
 
 
Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve

Colchester 01206 729678

 
 
 
Northey Island

Maldon 01279 870678

 
 

Featured rural hideaways

Maison Talbooth

AA 3 Red Star Country House Hotel £150-£295 prpnb, Colchester

 
 
The Lodge at Hedingham Castle

VisitEngland 3 Star Self-catering £990-£6930 pupw sleeps 17, Castle Hedingham

 
 
Meadows Barn

VisitEngland 4 Star Self-catering £630-£980 pupw sleeps 2-12, Chelmsford