Our area guide to explore the best of Mersea Island and the Essex coast
You will find Mersea Island in north eastern corner of the county of Essex – at the point where the River Blackwater joins the River Colne, ten miles south of Colchester (Britain’s earliest Roman Town). The island measures five miles by two and is joined to the mainland by a causeway called The Strood. Twice a day, at Spring Tides, we become a real island.
Check out some of the wide range of family attractions available within a short drive of Waldegraves Family Holiday Park!
West Mersea Hard
West Mersea hard is the heart of West Mersea’s sailing and boating scene and the base for the local commercial fishermen. There is a pay & display car park adjacent to the causeway.
There is a marked section of the causeway to the left hand side where crabbing is allowed. All you need is a crabbing line and a bucket plus some bait (we recommend bacon!) and you are ready to go! Our tip is to make your own crab line with a ball of string and a weight but if you prefer to buy the real thing, use the shops in the centre of West Mersea village to save yourself a few pennies! After crabbing, you can treat yourselves to an ice cream from the Blackwater Pearl, opposite the causeway.
RNLI Lifeboat Station
Along to the West of the causeway is the West Mersea Lifeboat Station. During School holidays, weekends and Bank Holidays, volunteers supporting the RNLI open the lifeboat station to visitors. You can learn about the history of the lifeboat station and the local people who make up it’s crew as well as seeing the Lifeboat itself up close and see how it is launched. There is also a souvenir shop with plenty of pocket money toys.
Lady Grace Boat Trips
The Lady Grace and her captain Stacey make regular trips around the harbour every day. Wait at the end of the causeway and you can take a leisurely 20 minute ride out into the Estuary & you may even see the local friendly seal who is often seen popping his head up to say hello! Stacey also takes bookings for pirates and mermaid birthday parties on board Lady Grace as well as bird watching trips and much more!!
Cudmore Grove Country Park, East Mersea
Cudmore Grove offers visitors a trip to the seaside with a difference. The large area of grassland leading to the beach is a great place to picnic, fly a kite or walk the dog. The small visitor centre gives information on the local wildlife and there is a bird hide looking over a large water inlet, popular with waterfowl. Talks take place some days in the Summer so it’s worth looking out for any special events. Please be aware that there is a pay and display car park at Cudmore Grove.
East Mersea– St Osyth– Brightlingsea Foot Ferry
In peak times during the summer, a regular foot ferry runs from East Mersea point, accessed on foot via Cudmore Grove Country Park. The ferry goes across to the local seaside towns of St Osyth
and Brightlingsea, both great days out in themselves!!
Mersea Museum, West Mersea
Mersea Museum is in the village centre. The nearest car park is behind the library and is pay and display. Look for St Peter & St Paul’s Church, to the right as you walk out of the car park and the entrance to the museum is to the left. The museum occupies a purpose built building and has been independently run by local people sine 1976. Local trades including fishing and boat building are represented throughout the museum as well as natural and marine history and the past lives of local Mersea families.Mersea Museum has a small gift shop and resource centre and, during the summer months holds regular history walks around the local area. While visiting Mersea Museum, why not explore the rest of what West Mersea village has to offer with it’s cafes, gift shops and antique shops along with a selection of other small local businesses.
Smart Art, Church Road, West Mersea
Smart Art in West Mersea is a great way so spend any afternoon, rainy or otherwise!! Tables are set up ready for budding artists to show their creative side. All ages from toddlers to pensioners can find something to do. There are robots and dinosaurs to paint and decorate, ceramics for Deco patching and much, much more!! Best of all, you only pay for the materials you use. Outside of school holidays, the studio is not open 7 days a week so check before going. Thursday night is ladies night so why not take a bottle of wine and some nibbles and get creative!!
Farm Land Hacking, Langenhoe
The local area around Mersea Island has some amazing countryside & what better way to enjoy it than on horse back. Farm Land Hacking can be found in Langenhoe Hall Lane, just a short drive from
Mersea Island. They accept all ages and abilities for rides from just 30 minutes to much longer.
To enquire or book, call 07716 120 524
Mersea Farm Shop, Bower Hall, West Mersea
For those of you who like the outdoor life, visit Mersea Farm Shop, just around the corner. Selling a range of locally grown produce and while you are there, you can visit the animals at the farm. There’s plenty to see from llamas to chickens. Maybe won’t fill a day but a great trip out!
Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre, Layer De La Haye
Abberton Reservoir is a centre of international importance for wildfowl. Up to 40,000 ducks, swans & geese visit each year. There are excellent bird watching opportunities. This is a great place for a day out in the countryside. The visitor centre has a gift shop and there are facilities for those less able guests including routes that are suitable for wheelchair users. Unfortunately, due to nesting birds, dogs are not permitted.
Friday Woods, Bounstead Road, Colchester
Friday Woods is a military owned woods on the south side of Colchester. It is great for a day out and a fantastic place to explore. There is a car park on Bounstead Road, Colchester where you can leave your car all day for free. Keep an eye out for it as you drive along as it is private therefore, not signposted! There is a large map as you exit the car park but you are best off exploring. There are clearings with trees big enough to climb and lots of great places for dogs to have a good sniff around! This is also an excellent place to spot wildlife with plenty of learning opportunities for the little ones. A great game for toddlers is ‘find the Chocolate tree’. Take a secret stash of small chocolate treats (Freddos do nicely) and sneakily hide them in the trees for the kids to find. It’ s great fun for everyone!
SAFETY NOTE: Friday Woods is an MOD training ground. If you get there and you see the red flag flying DO NOT ENTER THE WOODS! There will be potentially armed soldiers about!