If you’re a lover of sport and outdoor pursuits, then Essex is one the best places you could choose to visit. Situated just outside of London, the county is more than 70 per cent rural land, and features some of the country’s most picturesque scenery, making it a haven for cyclists.
Bicycle road racing
In fact, the county’s close affinity with the sport of bicycle road racing is such that the most hallowed of competitions, the Tour de France, visited in 2014, passing through Braintree, Epping and Chelmsford and drawing over a million excited spectators. Pedalling your way along one of the many established tracks the county has to offer is a great way to take in the scenery, and get in some decent cardio at the same time!
If road riding isn’t your thing then Essex still has you covered. The county played host to the 2012 Olympics mountain biking events, at Hadleigh Farm. Following the games, the course was overhauled and opened up to the public, and it has plenty to offer bikers of all skill levels.
All of the lush green space Essex has to offer makes it perfect for golfers, too. The county is replete with fantastic courses upon which to “spoil a good walk”, with hidden gems like Thorndon Park, a well-respected 6512-yard course set in the serene Brentwood countryside and Orsett, an Open Championship Regional Qualifying course, standing out amongst the crowd. With more than 350 miles of coastline, Essex ranks among the finest places in the land for people who enjoy water sports.
Pedalling your way along one of the many established tracks the county has to offer is a great way to take in the scenery, and get in some decent cardio at the same time
Whether you’re more at home seal spotting from the comfort of your kayak, or tacking in your sailboat, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Walkers gravitate to Essex from London and other more populous areas in the south east, in order to enjoy the countless miles of well-trodden paths and striking countryside that the county has to offer, including the National Trust-recommended Danbury Common to Lingard Common walk, in Chelmsford, and Paycocke’s Tudor Coggeshall walk near Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town.
If they sound a bit too easy then you could set about undertaking The Broomway, which is widely recognised as the country’s most perilous path, and one which has claimed over 100 lives – though the only way to take in that particular slice of the county’s history is as part of a seasonal guided tour group.
Football and rugby fans will find much to enjoy in Essex, with numerous clubs to support, and there’s also a storied county cricket club, playing out of The County Ground in Chelmsford, where one can sit and watch the likes of Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara strike a six in a county or T20 match.
If the weather puts paid to your outdoor pursuits then you’ll still find plenty to do in Essex. There are leisure centres and other indoor sport facilities dotted all over the county, including the Southend Swimming and Diving Centre at Garon Park in Southend and the Brentwood Ski and Snowboard Centre. So, if you’re visiting Essex remember to pack your bathing suit and your salopettes!
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