Walking in Essex

Walking in Essex, by Peter Aylmer (Cicerone, 2019)

Essex may not be the first area for someone furth of the county to consider as a walking destination, but Peter Aylmer’s book ought to go a long way in changing perspectives. He takes in all the landscapes and shorescapes of the county, and even encroaches into those parts of Greater London which were, but are no longer, administered as part of Essex.

Recently, I walked from Trafalgar Square to Southend Pier, and Aylmer’s descriptions match very clearly my recollections of the parts where our paths have crossed. A long time ago, I wrote up a walk from Saffron Walden to Thaxted for The Times: his text brings back all the memories of that area through his route-notes. Throughout the book, the descriptions are clear and engaging, with many photographs and the usual high-quality maps from Cicerone. The book shows walkers other things to see and do nearby, including the best pubs and cafés for refreshment stops, and the public transport opportunities, this last being particularly important for the linear route from Manor Park to Harwich) which links the Corporation of London’s Centenary Way through Epping Forest to the entire length of the Essex Way (Epping to Harwich) in eleven sections.

Around London, areas such as the Chilterns and the North Downs are recognised as excellent walking areas. Essex — all of it, not just the popular bits of the coast — ought to be better known by the millions of people who live in and around the county. In this book, Peter Aylmer brings the area to life in the best possible way, by leading you gracefully through it.

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