Best river trails in Colchester, Essex

125 Reviews
Explore the most popular river trails near Colchester with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of river trails in Colchester, Essex
Top trails (6)
#1 - Tollesbury Wick Circular Walk
Tollesbury Wick Marshes
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Length: 5.7 mi • Est. 2 h 28 m
This circular walk is situated ten miles south south east of Colchester, in Essex. It goes round Tollesbury Wick, an extensive area of coastal grazing marsh at the mouth of the Blackwater estuary, an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It lies at the heart of an internationally important complex of sites for birds and wildlife. If there is a walk in Essex that better combines accessibility, attractive scenery, extensive views, big skies, all year round high quality birdwatching and spectacular remoteness, it has yet to been added to AllTrails. A short section of the walk runs through the varied and quirky back roads of Tollesbury village. The walk starts in a public car park, with toilets, and is entirely flat. It should take 2-3 hours, depending on how much bird watching and view admiring you do. There are some sections that can get muddy after rain, so boots are required in wet conditions. This is a good walk for dogs that are happy to trot along the path in front of you. But dogs that love to race manically around are likely to disturb feeding and ground nesting birds. Grazing sheep are likely to be encountered. There are two small stiles, otherwise the walk uses gates.Show more
#2 - Wivenhoe and the Colne Estuary
Colchester, Essex, England
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Length: 6.3 mi • Est. 2 h 45 m
This circular walk in Essex is for lovers of estuary scenery and for birdwatchers. It starts at Wivenhoe, four miles to the south east of Colchester. The outbound leg runs through varied countryside, some attractive, some OK, and just one or two short stretches that are a bit 'industrial'. However, the return leg runs along the water's edge of Alresford Creek and the Colne estuary, providing lovely scenery and excellent birdwatching opportunities. The river frontage of Wivenhoe is well worth a visit, with its superb collection of old cottages and houseboats, sympathetically extended by imaginative and attractive new housing. All of the walk is along well defined tracks and paths and is easy going. There are three stiles, and one foot crossing of an operational railway line. Grazing livestock are unlikely to be encountered. Some sections will get wet and muddy after heavy rain. The walk should take about three hours, plus birdwatching, boat-spotting and view-gazing time.Show more
#3 - Brightlingsea Church and Alresford Creek
Colchester, Essex, England
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Length: 5.1 mi • Est. 2 h 15 m
Please note that sections of this trail have been reported closed as of 08/25/2020. This lollipop-shape walk offers varied and attractive country-estuary, a creek, pasture and arable farmland, woodland, a sand quarry (both working and abandoned) and extensive views, 6 miles south east of Colchester in Essex. Birdwatching opportunities vary from 'good' to 'excellent'. It shares some of the route of another walk, 'Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country', but is shorter, and has some attractive parts that the longer walk does not. The walking is easy throughout, with just one slight climb. No sections are noticeably wet, but doubtless some may become so after heavy rain. The 'stick' of the 'lollipop' is comprised of a distance of 0.7 miles along a quiet country tarmac lane (but which some lorries use). As you do this twice, there is a total of 1.4 miles on tarmac. Both cattle and sheep will be encountered and you will need to negotiate kissing gates, but the walk is stile free. Allow three hours, plus view gazing and birdwatching time. (Note: a shorter alternative would be to drive down the country lane to Waypoint 1, by the quarry entrance, and start walking from here. Cars park here, and one more should be OK. Park on the left side of the road, just past the quarry entrance).Show more
#4 - Chappel and Chalkney Wood
Colchester, Essex, England
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Length: 5.1 mi • Est. 2 h 22 m
This circular walk starts in the quaint hamlet of Chappel, six miles west north west of Colchester in Essex. It takes in a combination of arable land, river valley grazing meadows, and the largest wood in the area. Highlights are extensive views across the Colne Valley, lovely mixed woodland, two large old river mills, extensive riverside meadows and marshland, and a most impressive railway viaduct. The route is easy going, with just one steady climb up a slope. Parts of the route are almost always wet and muddy, but there is only one stile. Grazing livestock, mainly sheep, will be encountered in both the early and latter parts of the walk, where dogs will need to be kept under close control. The walk includes 400 metres along a quiet tarmac lane. Allow around 2.5 hours.Show more
#5 - Abberton Reservoir Circuit
Colchester, Essex, England
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Length: 12.1 mi • Est. 5 h 35 m
This walk is a special one for birdwatchers, going all the way around Abberton Reservoir. Abberton has long been considered to be the single best reservoir for birdwatching in the country, due to its location near the East coast fly-way. Over 280 species have been seen here. Recent work has resulted in significant potential improvements for wildlife, which will strengthen over time. The walk starts 5.5 miles southwest of Colchester. It traverses typically pleasant, but unspectacular, Essex rural scenery. Not all of the route is in view of the water, but the habitats seen include open water, reedbed, scrapes and lagoons, rough grassland, wood, scrub, pasture and arable farmland. Most of the walk is good for dogs, with the only livestock being near Layer Church and (possibly) Wigborough Church. However, dogs that are excitedly charging through grassland and scrub will disturb birds and do not really fit with the ethos of a nature reserve. There is one notable downside to the route. The route makes use of paths, tracks and roads. There is one stile along the route. Some of it is on bare earth, the condition of which will vary according to the amount of recent rainfall. A total of 2.2 miles is on public roads, including the Layer Breton causeway, which is one of the prime birdwatching locations. However 0.7 mile is along a busy B-road, where the verges are narrow. There is no getting away from the fact that this stretch is not a pleasant experience. However, at the moment there is no alternative to tackling it, if you want to go right round the reservoir. If you want a shorter route that avoids this stretch there are some options. Sections 1 and 2 could be used to create a shorter, circular walk, returning via the Layer-de-la-Haye causeway. The sections from Peldon onwards could be used as 'out and back' walks - the reservoir can also be accessed at Peldon (Waypoint 4), Abberton Church (Waypoint 5) and Layer Church (Waypoint 7). This route does not make use of the Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which is located next to the start car park (because it is only open 9-5, and non-members are expected to make a donation). But it is well worth visiting, with three hides, a good woodland walk, and a well equipped visitor centre.Show more
#6 - Along the Colne Valley from Chappel to Colchester
Colchester, Essex, England
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Length: 7.9 mi • Est. 3 h 31 m
This linear walk runs from the tiny rural railway station at Chappel to the main line one at Colchester in Essex, following the River Colne nearly all the way. (The return leg can be completed by train, a journey that takes 15-30 minutes with one change at Marks Tey). Most of the walk passes through unspoilt, quiet and attractive scenery, including the 500 acre Woodland Trust nature reserve of Fordham Hall. Five pubs are on, or near, the route, providing ample scope for diversions. The Colchester end of the walk, while avoiding road walking, does offer some 'different' experiences - not one, but two, pedestrian tunnels amongst them. Two sections of the walk get wet and boggy after rain - this is a walk for boots. There are two gentle climbs on the walk. Sheep will be encountered in the early part of the walk, and cattle may be in the central part. There are no stiles on the walk, only gates. The walk involves walking along very quiet tarmac lanes for a total of 1.3 miles, but these are very pleasant. There are three places where rural roads need to be crossed (where care needs to be taken), and one place where unfenced proximity to the A12 dual carriageway means that dogs must be temporarily leashed - the commentary provides plenty of explanation. You will need to cross a couple of golf course fairways so follow the safety notices here. Allow 4 hours.Show more