An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

51.787732, 0.953699
Distance: 21.5 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 7 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Essex
  • Size: 1800
  • Terrain: Flat grass paths
  • Access: Road bridge (tidal)
  • Height gain: 50 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 184
  • Starting point: Coast Road carpark, opposite West Mersea Yacht Club. Lat/Long 51.779205, 0.898885; GR TM 00070 12924
  • Accommodation/food:

    Seafood shacks, inns in West Mersea; café and vineyard between West and East Mersea; toilets and snacks at Cudmore Grove County Park neat East Mersea.

  • Island Summary:

    Mersea Island is bound to mainland Essex via the Strood, a causeway that stretches across the tidal channels of Strood and Pyefleet. It lies in the Blackwater and Colne estuaries to the south-east of Colchester. The island is split into two main areas, the populated and seafaring West Mersea and the rural East Mersea which also includes Cudmore Grove County Park. The north of the island is wild saltmarsh and mudflats packed with wading and migratory birds whilst the south is the key holiday destination with several holiday parks and the photogenic rows of pastel-coloured beach huts along the shore. Mersea is famed worldwide for its native oysters and is a foodie destination that can boast its own vineyard and brewery. There is plenty of interest along the whole of this walk.

  • Look out for:
    • Sucking the freshest of oysters in the Company Shed
    • Enjoying local fizz and beer
    • Watching the incredible birdlife in the creeks
    • Swimming across to Packing Shed, Cobmarsh, and Sunken Islands
  • Route description:

    This is a gentle walk around the UK’s most easterly inhabited island, surrounded by silent tidal creeks and estuaries. Starting at the village of West Mersea the clockwise route quickly gets wilder as it follows the sea wall along the north coast alongside the Strood and Pyefleet Channels. Rounding the eastern tip of the island it passes the low small Jurassic cliffs and woodland of Cudmore Grove Park. Sand and shingle beaches, front gardens of holiday parks, large houses and colourful beach huts then dominate the south coast route back to West Mersea.

  • Getting there:

    From Colchester take the B1025 south; the Strood is closed for certain high tides. Avoid tides greater than 5.00 metres; for these tides allow up to an hour and a half either side of the tide to get on or off the island safely

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