When’s the best time to visit Essex?

If anyone were to ask me “when’s the best time to visit Essex?” I would unhesitatingly urge them to jump on a plane today and come straight over without delay because May is definitely the best time to visit Essex.

the farm from across the fields

In May, the wheat fields look green and lush, though don’t walk around them with a farmer because he’ll point out every patch of blackgrass that’s about to break above the wheat crop.

pink hawthorn flowers

Around the fields, the hedgerows are in full leaf with elderflowers and wild roses just opening as the hawthorn blossom starts to fade a little. Most of the hawthorn blossom around here is white but we have patches of gorgeous pink flowers that look like a confection of raspberries crushed into cream. Sadly, their scent doesn’t match their prettiness, being rather sickly and clinging. According to Culpeper “the distilled water of the flowers stays the lax” and if “applied to any place pierced with thorns or splinters, it will draw them out.” Failing that, you could make a cordial with hawthorn flowers, though it’s too late round here to do that  and it would be better to wait a week or two for the elderflowers.

towards blackley lane

Everywhere you go, you can be sure to find cow parsley. Roadside verges, field edges, churchyards and woodland edges are filled with the froth of the white umbrella like clusters of flowers. Cow parsley is one of my favourite plants to use for jelly printing.

bridleway sign against tree

May is the perfect time to take a walk through Essex, when it’s sunny but not too hot and should be firm underfoot. Coloured discs mark the public rights of way – blue for bridleways and yellow for footpaths – that criss-cross the county, along the coast and through the countryside, linking villages and towns.



Or maybe you could find somewhere quiet and secluded to pass a little time. To relax and listen to the birds sing. Perhaps to sip a small fruit gin flavoured with flowers or berries from the surrounding countryside …

Quick! Book your ticket now!

You might also be interested in:

Slamseys Fruit Gin

Hiking the Essex Way for Essex Girls

How to make Jelly Prints





23 thoughts on “When’s the best time to visit Essex?

  1. Sounds lovely there. Hawthorn and all. I love wheat fields, particularly when they start ‘blueing’ as farmers used to and may still say. There’s no more amazing color.

  2. And a couple of days rain has made everything even more green and lush. I agree, in May the countryside is like a beautiful green and white and pink garden.

  3. J > So you’re an undercover agent for the Essex Tourist Board, eh? ;~) Your pictures show a luxuriance that makes me remember the joy and exuberence of May in our many previous homes … and yet I can also feel the claustrophobia I can get from such a landscape – a sense of ill-ease that drove us to life in the much more open landscape of the Outer Hebrides. You like me have much experience as a long-distance walker, but you’ll recognize that far too often lesser rights of way are far too often encroached on by over-grown hedgerows on one side, and an arable crop taken right up to the hedge. That said, when I see a properly kept public footpath clear across an arable field, it has the reverse effect – drawing me into the landscape, exciting my desire to walk and discover ; I also feel great appreciation for the care taken by the farmer who has the field – it’s often the case that the rest of the farm, too, is well-managed and a pleasure to behold. There, Anne, you’ve set me rambling … of a different kind!

    1. Someone has to stick up for Essex! A few years ago I would have agreed with you about rights of way, but nowadays it’s very rare to come to an overgrown path (though of course there are still a few). We walked from the south coast of England along the meridian line to Yorkshire on regular footpaths (as opposed to well known trails) and only had difficulty getting through one small section, which I thought was pretty good. It may be that everywhere just gets more walked now, which can only be good. So long as they take their litter home with them – but you’ll set me rambling if I don’t stop now!

  4. Looks absolutely idyllic. I think England all over is at its best in May. I love Queen Anne’s lace although the smell like that of hawthorn blossom can pall after a while. Always good when the gin and tonic season comes round – I know gin isn’t exactly seasonal but it always seems a summery thing to me. Talking of gin and tonic … But I’ll email you separately about that! E x

    1. There are a lot of very beautiful pink houses in Essex, which I just take for granted. Did you know that some of the pinks were originally made from pig blood mixed into a buttermilk wash?

  5. It looks beautiful in Essex and if I had more time at hand and not four children to deal with, a trip would sound really exiting. Here in Scotland we are a couple of weeks behind but it is starting to look luscious and vibrant now.

  6. Everything is looking beautiful, Anne. May is probably my favourite month. I hope you’re getting time to enjoy it all.

  7. We enjoyed our visit to Essex a few years ago, although that was during a very sunny August. The farmers were busy harvesting then. ( wheat and black Grass!) 😎

  8. Our May blossom is just coming out …. such a beautiful even if very ordinary flower. Essex is a county I don’t know at all – but one spring I’m going to follow your advice and come and check it out!

  9. It looks dreamy Anne…and I still love that dovecote! How is the light inside the dovecote? It might make a nice indoor photography space. That is something I have been thinking about lately. The cow parsley is so pretty. Enjoy the sunshine and the time with your sister.

    1. It’s a bit dark in the dovecote and no electricity so probably not the best place for photographs. In my dreams, I have an empty white space for all my projects and enthusiasms! One day …

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