Things to do in Essex: 12 stunning outdoor walks and activities in Essex that are perfect for Boxing Day

There’s something special about getting out for a stroll over Christmas.

Full to bursting from the delicious food you’ve eaten, going outside and getting some fresh air is both a great feeling and also really good for you.

And in Essex, there are some great places to do so.

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Being outside is also a great way to meet up with people in a safer way, as the Omicron variant continues to threaten our Christmas plans.

So here are 12 places in Essex that are perfect for a Christmas-time walk this year:


Palace Walk
Danbury Country Park
(Image: DariusKs)

The Palace Walk is a great way to see some of the prettiest locks in Essex.

It’s called the Palace Walk as the route takes you past Danbury Country Park, which is home to Danbury Palace.

Some good starting places include the country park and Blakes Wood.

On your journey on the Palace Walk, make sure you stop at Cuton Lock for a photo opportunity with a wartime shelter in the background, and at Little Baddow Lock with its pretty trees and greenery.

Find out more here

Papermill Lock
Paper Mill Lock
Paper Mill Lock
(Image: Essex Walks)

Found in Little Baddow on the outskirts of Chelmsford, this walk will take you on a three-and-a-half mile circular route along a stunning part of the canal.

There will likely be lots of birds, butterflies and other insects to see, as well as wild flowers growing on the path.

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Blakes Wood
Blakes Wood
Blakes Wood
(Image: The Woodland Trust)

Owned by the National Trust, this beautiful wood is a lovely place to go for a Christmas stroll.

Starting at Blakes Wood where there’s plenty of parking, you can then walk down to the nature reserves, before following the river and circle back to Blakes Wood.

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Heybridge Basin
Heybridge Basin
(Image: Ronnie Macdonald)

Whilst Heybridge Basin is popular and can get quite busy, by venturing along the canal paths, away from the sea wall area, pubs and cafes, you’ll find a gorgeous place for a Christmassy walk.

There are loads of birdwatching opportunities, as well as stopping for some great views.

Find out more here

Beeleigh Falls on the River Blackwater
Beeleigh Falls on the River Blackwater
(Image: Stephen Neale/

Starting at Beeleigh Falls, you know you’ll be in for a treat of a walk.

This walk heads towards Langford Mill and a very scenic reservoir.

You can then circle around, crossing the canal on the Maldon Bypass Gates, and then back down the canal towpath until you return to Beeleigh Falls.

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Tollesbury Wick
Tollesbury Wick
Tollesbury Wick
(Image: Essex Wildlife Trust)

This walk is stunning, and especially perfect for any boat and water lovers.

Taking in the picturesque village of Tollesbury near Maldon, this route follows the marina and along the seawall with its views of the Blackwater Estuary.

From East Street, head to the Marina, past the light ship and Shinglehead Point, and towards Rolls Farm. Head down the farm track, follow the footpath and then loop back round to Church Street.

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Bourne Mill

Another circular walk, this will take you through some of Colchester’s best country nooks.

At around an hour long, it’s family friendly – with a mixture of paths and town pavements it’s also suitable for pushchairs.

Starting at Bourne Mill, you can head down past the River Colne, passing Cannock Mill, Distillery Pond and the Almhouses of Winsley Square.

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Paycocke’s House
Paycockes House
Paycockes House
(Image: National Trust)

The National Trust title this walk the ‘Paycocke’s Tudor Coggeshall walk’, which is a very evocative 4km walk that is full of exciting 16th century history.

Discover the medieval Grange Barn, the Chapel of St Nicholas and St Mary’s Abbey.

The walk is described as ideal for families as it’s quite short and there’s loads of history to talk about along the way.

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Castle Point

Hadleigh Country Park
Hadleigh Castle is one of the most historic landmarks in south Essex
Hadleigh Castle is one of the most historic landmarks in south Essex
(Image: Edward Clack)

As one of the largest green spaces in Essex, Hadleigh Park is a great place for kids to run around in, as well as catching some fantastic views out over the Thames Estuary.

It’s also got lots of history, with Hadleigh Castle situated on a hill to the south-east of the park.

The park has also hosted the Mountain Biking events during the London 2012 Olympic Games, so it’s also an option for families who want to get out on their bikes together over the winter period.

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The Naze at Walton-on-the-Naze

This is a stunning coastal walk along the clifftops, starting and ending at the Naze Tower.

The headland is made up of around 300 acres of grassland, scrubland and saltmarsh.

There’s so much to explore here with your dog, from the clifftops to the beach.

The area is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, mostly because the cliffs are positively bursting with fossils and shark’s teeth.

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The Weald Country Park
Sunset at Weald Country Park in Brentwood

There are more than 520 acres of woodland, lakes, meadows and grassland at Weald Country Park, making it a great option for a Christmas Day or Boxing Day leg stretch.

It’s also full of wildlife, including deer, cattle, ducks and other water birds.

There’s even a 2km ‘Stick Man’ walking trail which takes you past the deer enclosure, the lake and the grazing area.

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Belhus Woods Country Park
Belhus Woods
Belhus Woods
(Image: Essex Country Parks)

A combination of ancient woodland and working woods makes this South Essex country park a brilliant option for a winter walk.

There is over 300 acres of space for dog walking, cycling or even to go bird watching.

Find out more

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