Heybridge Basin

Exploring the county of Essex doesn’t need to break the bank, we’ve lots of priceless and purse friendly ideas so that you can have great adventures, close to home.

1. Meander around a marvellous Site of Scientific Interest
Recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Marsh Farm Country Park – which is surrounded by the River Crouch, Clements Green and Fenn Creeks – has 10 miles of footpaths and over 300 acres to explore. With wonderful river views, the park is ideal for running, cycling, dog walking and fun family days out for free. Enjoy being at one with nature? Then those seeking wildlife are in for a treat as the park is a haven for ‘twitchers’ due to the flocks of birds which inhabit the area.

2. Get going with the Gruffalo Trail at Thorndon Country Park
Gruffalo Trail at Thorndon Country ParkIf you go down to the woods today – you’re likely to see a Gruffalo! Based around the popular Gruffalo story, this free fun self-led trail at Thorndon Country Park is great for families with younger children.

Walk within the beautiful woodlands of the park and discover the hand-crafted carvings of the Gruffalo characters. The trail takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and there’s no need to book.

3. Grab your bucket and spade and visit our beautiful beaches

With 350-miles of coastline and blue-flag status beaches, Essex has everything sun seeking beach goers could want. With sandy beaches and gently sloping shingle shorelines, Essex’s beaches are perfect for a day by the seaside for you and your little ones. From sunbathing and swimming to fossil hunting and beachcombing, Essex’s beautiful beaches are perfect for a free day out. See our list of the Top 10 Beaches in Essex for more information.

4. Ramble through countryside retreats

With acres of parkland and green spaces there’s something for everyone to explore without travelling far from their doorstep. Essex’s country parks and gardens are perfect places for the whole family to ramble their way across historic landscapes and to take time out and experience some peace and tranquillity. Get closer to nature, make memories, build dens and wander through woodlands to create a magical experience for you and your loved ones. Prefer a tougher challenge? Then why not walk all or part of the 81-mile long Essex Way, start in Epping and finish in the historic port of Harwich.

5. Terrific trips on two wheels
With a relatively flat landscape, quiet country lanes, coastal paths, canal towpaths and woodland trails, Essex is the perfect county to explore on two wheels. Cycle along quiet highways and byways and pedal your way through historic and picturesque villages and medieval market towns. Retrace the 2014 Tour De France route or embrace the rough stuff and go mountain biking at the home of the London 2012 Mountain Biking cross-country Olympics at Hadleigh Park. Visit places of interest of the beaten track or fuel your ride by stopping at one of our many popular pubs for some light refreshment. There’s no better way to explore our beautiful county than by bike.

6. Walk in Constables footsteps
Dedham ValeConstable Country, part of the stunning Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is both simple and carefree.

The characteristic lowland English landscape immortalised and made world-famous by artists such as Constable and Gainsborough is still instantly recognisable today.

Whether you are a seasoned rambler or a first-time walker who simply likes the idea of spending an indulgent few hours in the countryside, this area is steeped full of history, wildlife, culture and beauty.

This short, easily navigable route takes into the heart of Constable Country, via Flatford. For those wanting a further taste, the walk can be continued into Dedham and East Bergholt.

7. FirstSite
FirstSite in Colchester regularly runs free children’s activities where your young ones can take part in creative sessions designed to encourage children and families to play together and explore their own creative skills.

8. Essex Fire Museum
If art isn’t their thing you could always travel back in time and explore the Essex Fire Museum in Grays. Collected and curated by a former Firefighter, the Essex Fire Museum provides a fascinating look back into the history of the fire service and the men and women who fought fires to keep the public safe.

9. Essex Police Museum
There is also the Essex Police Museum in Chelmsford that tells the history of the force from 1840 until present day through objects and photographs. You and young ones can find out about how crime is detected, plus stories about some of the criminals and you can also have your fingerprints taken before trying out the recreation of a police cell.

10. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in Colchester is a hidden gem. With interactive displays, mini museum explorer sessions, and an abundance of displays and interesting facts the Natural History Museum is a great day out for all youngsters in your family whatever their age.




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