Who are you?
We’re the Lyon family – we love touring, which is a brilliant way to enjoy the great outdoors.
How do you know about the area?
We have lived here for over 30 years, originally choosing the town for its proximity to our work in Colchester (5km), London and Stansted Airport, and it’s easy access to public transport.
Why do you love it?
Wivenhoe, a small and tranquil riverside town of Saxon origin, was recorded as Wivnhou in the Domesday Book of 1086. It has a long history of fishing and boat-building. The area offers a great choice of countryside walking trails, National Cycle Network routes and scenic coastal footpaths.
Nearby Essex University gives the town a buzz, with a mix of students, commuters and a thriving artistic community. Wivenhoe’s small High Street has a delightful collection of independent shops and a number of attractive pubs.
If you enjoy being on the water, you can launch kayaks, boats and stand-up paddle boards from the quayside.
What is your favourite place to visit in the area?
There are numerous highlights: trail walking from Wivenhoe to the nearby Cinque Port of Brightlinsea, or the Town to Sea Trail, a waterfront walk directly into Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester.
Here you can see a band, browse the stalls and shops, take in an exhibition and visit Colchester Castle or the zoo. There are a number of nearby beaches – for amusements, try Clacton; for immaculate sands, Frinton. The Walton-on-the-Naze headland is a designated Site of Scientific Interest (the cliffs hold a range of fossils), and the traditional fishing village of Mersea Island offers fine views across the Blackwater Estuary.
Opposite Wivenhoe, you can take the ferry to explore the 200-acre Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, with views across the Geedon Saltmarsh, or cross over to the Suffolk border (nine miles) and visit Dedham Vale, on the Stour Valley’s Flatford and Constable walking trail.
Perhaps best known for its historic connection with the pilgrim ship, The Mayflower, Harwich is also worth a visit by bike or on foot along the first part of the Essex Way.
Which local campsite would you recommend, and why?
A particular favourite of ours if Fen Farm Caravan Park. Small and tranquil, this family-orientated site is located by the sea, close to a country park on Mersea Island. There’s a public footpath to the beach.
It’\s also near Cudmore Grove Country Park, where in normal times, you can take part in a terrific Sunday Parkrun!
What food and drink is the area best known for?
Mersea Wild Pacific Oysters, fished sustainably from traditional beds, are world famous and can be enjoyed at The Company Shed or the West Mersea Oyster Bar. For wine-tasting and tours in Suffolk, Dedham Vale Vineyard is a must. Tiptree Jam Museum is not far away, so you will find the famous royal preserve with most cream teas in the area. Try the Essex Rose Tea Room, in Dedham High Street, or take afternoon tea at the Wivenhoe House, a lovely country house hotel.
Tell us somewhere great to eat!
The Black Buoy, in Wivenhoe, is a CAMRA award-winning pub that takes some beating for a reasonably priced family meal, although there are five other pubs to choose from should you wish to partake in a pub crawl!
For a Friday night fish and chip supper, Henley’s of Wivenhoe (the world record holders for the fastest serving of chips from raw potato) is an absolute must.
If it’s for a special occasion, for us it would have to be Le Talbooth, with its picturesque setting alongside the River Stour in Dedham.
Where can you get spare kit?
Homestead Caravans & Outdoor Leisure, in Weeley, stocks one of the largest collections of accessories and outdoor kit in the UK.
Where can I find the cheapest petrol/diesel in the area?
Tesco Hythe Superstore (Greenstead Road, CO1 2TE), by the infamous ‘magic roundabout’ – care is needed, because traffic travels in both directions.
Share a highlight only a local would know…
Visit Wrabness to follow the footpath that brings you to the unique House for Essex, designed by Grayson Perry.
With views across the beach, there are perfect picnic spots and you can also join the Essex Way from here.
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