The region of Essex may conjure up images of white stilettos and fake tanned TOWIE stars for many, however for many more this is a region known for its rural beauty which features plenty of country parks, open gardens, a wide variety of wildlife and picturesque walks throughout.
Rural villages and tiny hamlets
Essex features many small market towns, age old villages and historic hamlets which are interwoven by beautiful country lanes. There are far too many to list here (particularly as Essex is comprised of 70% rural landscapes, villages and hamlets) however it seems that the crowning glory amongst these may be Uttlesford which, in 2014, was voted Britain's most desirable rural area to live in.
Great Notley Country Park - Great Notley
This parkland is perfect for horse riding and walking alike and additionally features plenty of cycle paths, a large wooden climbing frame for children and a new high ropes experience for both adults and children.
Thorndon Country Park South - Brentwood
This park is home to extensive walks, cycle trails and a café offering light meals and refreshments. Thorndon Country Park also has a cycle hire facility available from the Trailnet Activity Centre.
Weald Country Park - South Weald
This park is particularly well known for its wildlife (with plenty of opportunities for spotting deer).
Constable Country, which is officially known as Dedham Vale, is a region that demonstrates the very best of Essex countryside where you can explore picturesque villages, walk across rolling hills and enjoy landscapes that include everything from luscious meadows through to ancient woodlands.
Constable Country: A little history
Constable Country has been so called in honour of artist John Constable, who brought the region to life through oil sketches that remain of interest and debate to this day. This region surrounded his home, with his most famous works being Wivenhoe Park painted in 1816, Dedham Vale painted in 1802 and The Hay Wain, painted in 1821.
Given the beautiful rural landscape of Essex it's hardly surprising that this is also an area for many a manicured open garden. Some of the most popular of which are:
The Gardens of Easton Lodge - Little Easton
These gardens date all the way back to Tudor times and provide guided tours as well as kid's activities.
RHS Garden Hyde Hall - Chelmsford
This charity run site features a bird hide and plenty of innovative architectural plants.
The Beth Chatto Gardens - Elmstead Market
These open gardens feature plenty of creativity with themes that run throughout, they also feature a shop and tearoom.
Wildlife and nature reserves
Fingringhoe Wick Visitor Centre - Fingringhoe
This Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre is set within truly impressive scenery that overlooks the Colne Estuary. You can enjoy a wide variety of natural habitats, spanning across grassland, heathland and ponds, and their respective wildlife.
South Essex Wildlife Garden - Pitsea
This RSPB open nature reserve is ideal for birdwatching and provides guided walks as well as children's activities.
Abbotts Hall Farm - Great Wigborough
The Essex Wildlife Trust is the county's leading conservation charity and features visitor centres, nature reserves and year round events.
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