Roman River Valley

The Roman River Valley

The Roman River is a tributary of the River Colne that flows to the south of Colchester, past several villlages of note including Copford, Layer Marney, and Rowhedge and a number of nature reserves and wild areas including Abberton Reservoir, Fingringhoe Wick, and the Roman River Valley Nature Reserve itself.

Also within it's reach lie some of Colchester's most popular and impressive tourist attractions including Colchester Zoo and Layer Marney Tower, which you will find nestled in a typically rural Essex landscape.

As you travel through the valley, discover a fascinating history, from Medieval Wall Paintings in Copford Church, to scars of the great earthquake and tales of crashed zeppelins in Great Wigborough. Shops and pubs in this area are few and far between, although those that you do find in the larger villages are guaranteed to provide a warm welcome.

The Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves provide walks, trails and impressive views for casual visitors as well a consistent selection of uncommon and rare birds, especially during the autumn months when migrating birds are passing through.

Stay in the Roman River Valley

Rye Farm

Relax in a friendly, moated, period farm house, set in tranquil surroundings. Adjacent to Abberton Reservoir. Excellent for bird watching. Convenient for visiting Colchester with its Castle and many museums.

Farmhouse with 3 rooms, £80 prpnb

Rye Farm

Peaceful, rural location on a working farm with views over fields. Comfortably furnished to high standard. 4 miles from Colchester. Close to Abberton Reservoir & Zoo. Convenient for Mersea Island, Layer Marney Tower & Beth Chatto Gardens.

Self-catering with 4 units, £360-£590 pupw sleeps 2-4

Things to do in the Roman River Valley

Leopard at Colchester Zoo. Photo: Scott Davey
Colchester Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attracions in the UK, and is ranked as the 11th best zoo in the world. You can easily spend a whole day walking around the expansive grounds getting to know the different animals, with opportunities to experience feeding time and training sessions for many of the animals too.

There's plenty of undercover sections for wet weather days, and a host of bonus activities on site from playgrounds, to the Madagascar Express train, a petting zoo, and soft play.
Layer Marney Tower

Layer Marney Tower is the gatehouse for an incomplete Tudor Palace, which stands as the tallest of it's kind in England. Built in the reign of Henry VIII this privately owned attraction opens its gates regularly during the summer months, and can be visited all year round by appointment.

A year-round calendar of events can also be found happening at the Tower, including kite festivals, tudor fairs, and classic car rallies.

Fingringhoe Wick
Essex Wildlife Trust has two significant Nature Reserves in the Roman River Valley, at Abberton Reservoir, with panoramic view across the water and a Brambly Hedge trail for the children, and at Fingringhoe Wick by the Colne Esturay, with grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds.

Both reserves have well positioned bird hides, visitor centres and tea rooms, with friendly staff ensuring the sites can be enjoyed by all, from enthusiastic birders to young families exploring the natural world.

Historic Sites

Like the rest of Colchester's beautiful borough, the Roman River Valley has a rich history, as it's very name suggests. Highlights include Gosbecks Archaeological Park, site of a pre-Roman settlement in Colchester, as well as a now destroyed Roman temple and theatre. St Michael and All Angels Church in Copford boasts some of the finest medieval wall paintings in the country, and the inauspicious village of Great Wigborough houses tales of the Great Earthquake of 1884, and the site of a crashed World War 1 zeppelin.
Copford Church Medieval Wall Paintings
St Michael & All Angels Church, Copford.
Zeppelins in Wigborough
A crashed WW1 Zeppelin in Great Wigborough

Roman River Music Festival

Roman River Music
The Roman River Music Festival has been running in Colchester since 2013, bringing world class musicians to the town in a festival designed to include everyone.

Usually running in Septemeber, the festival takes place at a variety of venues around Colchester, not just limited to the Roman River Valley from which it takes its name. Often bringing performance to unusual spaces (past performances have occurred at disused churches, contemporary nightclubs, and old bus garages) it provides a unique opportunity to engage with high quality classical music on an unlikely stage.

Visit for more information.