It’s safe to say that Essex isn’t known, first and foremost, for outdoor serenity and camping. We’re here to disprove any-and-all assumptions of the region though by running you through the best camping and glamping spots the county has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a seaside retreat at the beach or a jam-packed activity-based holiday, Essex will have you covered with its array of nice campsites and unique places to stay.
The county’s woodland runs for thousands of acres, providing the backdrop for some unforgettable summer days and the cosiest of summer nights. Keep an eye out for the best of Essex’s wildlife too, from the muntjac deer to the striking swoops of the Kingfisher, you’re bound to be amazed by what you see on a camping trip here.
Lee Valley Almost Wild Campsite
This appropriately named ‘Almost Wild’ campsite sits on an idyllic island between the Essex and Hertfordshire borders, offering a type of serenity you might not expect to find in East Anglia. Just 30 minutes from London’s Liverpool Street station sits a leafy canopy created by Lee Valley’s regional park, with an area that’s been left untamed to allow every visitor the chance to experience its natural beauty in style. The local pub’s just a canoe paddle away as well.
Basic facilities are provided (a composting toilet, cold water tap and a sink for washing up), but the rest is up to your imagination. You’ll get a helping hand in that department from the wild badgers, birds, muntjac, bats, and, with any luck, a sighting of Broxbourne’s favourite otter. If the sound of Lee Valley’s Almost Wild campsite has inspired you, start deciding whether you’ll want a riverside or woodland pitch. There are 17 pitches in total, with tents, hammocks and dogs allowed, but no motorhomes or caravans. It’s all about being (almost) wild here.
The Shepherds’ Hides
Blending countryside and coastal views, the 55 acres of Essex’s Mill Farm makes the perfect spot for these two cosy abodes. One hide is tucked away pond-side, peacefully sat in a partially wooded enclave as the other hide overlooks Mill Farm’s newly planted vineyard. Strawberry fields find themselves woven into the farmland and are open to guests in the Summer months (for those of you fancying a Beatles-esque spin on reality). Campers are encouraged to explore the various trails leading from, towards and away from the farm.
As well as the fully restored circa-1831 tidal mill (the title track of the farm site, if you will), top bird watching spot Arlesford Creek is just a footpath away. Longer walks will take you to the busier parts of Essex’s coast, heading east for the arcades of Clacton-on-Sea and west for Mersea Island’s tranquil stony beaches.
Both hides are equipped with the same comforts; the bedrooms come with a king-sized bed and an en suite shower room, while the dining areas are neatly kitted with a compact kitchen space and wood burning stoves. If Brightlingsea’s Shepherds’ Hides sounds like the summer glamping spot for you, you’ll be greeted with a local goods basket as a welcoming gift for your custom. Once you’ve made your way through the goods, the shops of nearby towns of Brightlingsea and Thorrington will provide all the essentials for your stay, as well as a neat local pub (The Red Lion).