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13th May 2019 Claire Martin

How to spend 48 hours in Essex

Day one

48 Hours

Feel the sand beneath your toes on a beachfront walk

Seafront walks
Start the day with a bracing walk along Southend sea front, starting in Leigh on Sea at the cockle sheds and making your way from the traditional feel of Chalkwell and Westcliff, up to the ultra-modern rainbow neon lights of Southend and its amusement arcades. It’s a few miles from end to end, but the path adjacent to the sea wall is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists because it’s well-paved and offers stunning views across the estuary.

Food for thought
Enjoy a pub lunch at The Spotted Dog in Great Dunmow, where the à la carte menu offers everything from roasted monkfish to a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. The informal outdoor seating area provides the perfect setting for lunch if the weather is good, but the cosy indoor tables are perfect when the day is cooler.

Take your day sky-high
Head to the airfield outside of Stapleford Tawney on the outskirts of Epping to take your day sky-high with a 30-minute flying lesson! You’ll receive one-to-one training from a CAA licensed instructor and as well as getting to see the county from a few thousand feet up, you’ll get a taste for what it’s like to pilot your own plane.

Seriously special 
Head towards Chelmsford for dinner at Rettendon’s Le Benaix Bar & Brasserie. The French cuisine is seriously special and the restaurant’s cocktail menu will impress even the hardest to please. The chefs can boast training under such greats as Marco Pierre White and Albert Roux, which should give you an idea of the calibre of cuisine on offer.

It’s a few miles from end to end, but the path adjacent to the sea wall is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists because it’s well-paved and offers stunning views across the estuary

Day two

Treat yourself
Start your day at The Lifehouse Spa in Frinton on Sea. Considered one of the best spa experiences in the south east, you’ll choose from a selection of treatments which will rejuvenate mind and body, ready for the rest of your day.

48 Hours Essex

Treat yourself to some oysters and a glass of wine by the sea

Fresh seafood
For lunch on day two, we cannot recommend the West Mersea Oyster Bar highly enough. The restaurant serves Colchester Rock Oysters and Mersea Native Oysters, bred locally and considered some of the best in the world, as well as a huge selection of other fresh seafood cooked to the highest standard. They also offer takeaway seafood if you want to stroll along the coast while you eat.

Retail therapy  
It’s time to splash the cash as you head for intu Lakeside, Europe’s largest single-destination shopping centre. Treat yourself to a new outfit ahead of the evening’s meal or simply browse the stores for your mental wish-list, but be sure to pop into Lush for a hand-made bath-bomb to enjoy while you get ready for your night out.

Quirky eateries 
Save the best until last by dining at The Blue Strawberry in Hatfield Peverel, considered one of the finest eateries in Essex. The restaurant is quirky yet understated and uses only the finest ingredients in its diverse menus. Diners with restricted diets are also catered for with various vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals and you can even enjoy a glass of Blue Strawberry wine, grown, fermented and bottled in nearby New Hall Vineyard specially for the restaurant’s customers.

Everything you need to know about Essex

Where to eat in Essex

The best things to do in Essex

The best shopping in Essex

The best nightlife in Essex

Your guide to arts and culture in Essex

Image credits: ©Lalo Hernandez/Sweet Ice Cream Photography/Unsplash; Sue Chillingworth/Adobe Stock

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