With another bank holiday coming up in August and holidays abroad still limited, English getaways have never seemed more appealing.
Mersea Island, in Essex, is relatively undiscovered and makes a welcome change from the heavy shores of Bournemouth and Brighton.
It’s only ten miles from Colchester with only one main road connecting the island to the mainland.
During high tides this road is completely submerged meaning access to and from the island is restricted, so it’s always best to check this before you make your trip.
The Island is split between East Mersea and West Mersea, the west being the livelier of the two.
The east side of the Island is not to be missed though with Cudmore Grove Country Park, a nature reserve with 102 acres of nature reserve and unique coastal walks overlooking the Colne and Blackwater Estuaries.
Shark teeth have been found along the eroding cliffs dating back 300,000 years and the island itself was used as a holiday destination for people back in Roman times.
You’ll also find some lovely country pubs on the east including The Dog and Pheasant and The Fox Inn.
Over on the west side you’ll find the sandy (and shingle) beach with its iconic pastel coloured beach huts.
There’s about 400 in total and they’ve been on the island since the 1920’s – definitely Instagram worthy.
The beach is also dog friendly, an added bonus.
Mersea Island’s famous oysters
Perhaps the thing that Mersea is most famous for is it’s seafood, in particular oysters.
These oysters have been harvested on the island since Roman times and are now shipped worldwide.
Two varieties can be found in Mersea: Colchester Rock Oyster which are available all year round and the Colchester Native Oyster which are harvested from September to May.
Along the seafront there are a few shacks where you can taste this delicacy but The Company Shed is the famous hut which has been praised by Jamie Oliver and can have queues of up to an hour if you don’t get there early.
It’s got a BYO booze and bread policy and all seafood is caught locally.
If you don’t fancy the wait then take a stroll only 100 meters up the road and you’ll find the West Mersea Oyster Bar which gives a similar alternative – and has a licence for alcohol.
If you’re not a fan of seafood but want to try some local produce, then the Mersea Island Vineyard is worth a visit where you can do some wine tasting and enjoy the vintage surroundings.
The island is the perfect place if you’re wanting to venture out of London to enjoy the fresh sea breeze whilst being able to make it there and back in a day.
How to get there
It’s a picturesque hour and a half drive from central London along the A13 and the A12 through quaint Essex villages.
If you’re taking public transport then it’s a direct route from London Liverpool Street to Colchester and then a 30 minute bus to the island.
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