A Breath of Fresh Air
You are never far from the great outdoors in Colchester, as the town is surrounded by havens of green space and beautiful countryside.
Whether you want to get outdoors in to the fresh air to exercise, or simply love exploring the countryside, Colchester is the place to be to get away from it all and have a rest from the rush of everyday life.
Gardens and Parks in Colchester
Take time out from the bustle of the town centre with a visit to the classic Victorian Castle Park at the end of the High Street, awarded a Green Flag for its high standards. Castle Park is also the start of many of Colchester's Guided Tours, a great way to discover the stories, history, characters and future of Britain's oldest recorded town.
Any gardening fan must visit the world famous Beth Chatto Gardens - inspirationally transformed over four decades with plants suited to the conditions. Don't miss the opportunity to take home some plants as souvenirs from the nursery, a favourite haunt of television gardeners!
At High Woods Country Park (once a Royal hunting forest) on the edge of town, you can take a marked walking trail through the greenery. You can then soak up even more nature at a Local Nature Reserve: Fingringhoe Wick has a full events programme including children's activities related to its grassland, heathland, estuarine and freshwater habitats while Abberton Reservoir is a major place for bird watching and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The Dedham Vale has the official status of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is perfect for cycling and walking, and this is the proper way to really appreciate Constable's landscapes. Delight in discovering this quintessential English countryside at a more relaxed pace, the way that Constable himself did by taking The Painters' Trail, a cycle route taking in scenes and skies so favoured by some of Britain's leading artists.
To help keep the area special and the traffic noises at a low, public transport is the best way to get to Dedham. For an ideal journey, we recommend taking the train from Colchester to Manningtree, then walking across the beautiful landscape, and finally stopping off for a well-deserved break in Dedham town.
Follow the River Colne down to Mersea Island, home to the Colchester native oyster, and the ideal place to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Go for a paddle on the beach, bird-watching in Cudmore Grove Country Park, or simply for a walk across the tranquil island.
Easily accessible by car or public transport from Colchester Town Centre, Mersea Island is ideal for a peaceful day out surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Mersea Island is also a great place to discover local produce - a platter of fresh Mersea seafood, with glass of local wine!
Walks in Colchester
Colchester and the surrounding area has plenty of beautiful landscapes and parks for an afternoon stroll or a proper hike. A variety of walking routes and maps are available to pick up or buy at the Visitor Information Centre in Hollytrees Museum, or visit Walk Colchester to help you plan your walks around Colchester.
The Town to Sea Trail takes you on a short, two and a half mile, journey from the town centre through to the historic port of the Hythe. Download the Town to Sea Trail leaflet before you go to discover more about the area's heritage and wildlife through the fourteen unique, hand forged artworks located along the route, or even print off your own Town to Sea Family Activity Sheet for the way!
If you're up for a longer hike, the Town to Port Trail also follows the river Colne all the way from Colchester to Wivenhoe.
Cycling in Colchester
With scenic coastal paths, quiet country lanes and woodland trails for all standards of rider, exploring Colchester and its surrounding area by bike can be as adventurous as you like.
There are multiple National Cycle Network Routes running through Colchester, connecting the town with places such as London, Harwich, and even the Netherlands through National Route 51, part of the North Sea Cycle Network.
For a map of local cycle routes within Colchester, visit Cycle Colchester. The VIC shop sells various cycle maps, including The Painter's Trail which follows Constable, Gainsborough and Munnings through Dedham and beyond.
Bikes are available to hire at the Roman Circus Centre just outside the town centre.