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How To Follow The Essex Serpent’s Trail

Visit and stay at the stunning Essex coastline showcased on the Apple TV hit, The Essex Serpent

The Essex Serpent, based on the bestselling novel of the same name starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston, has hit the small screen. Viewers are spellbound by an unexpected extra character: the spectacular Essex coastline.

Essex-born author of The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry, used an amalgamation of Essex locations to devise the fictional village of Aldwinter. Visit Essex, the county’s tourism body, highlights the key filming locations for you to retrace the Hollywood A-listers’ steps, and find the perfect bolthole for a staycation right here in our wonderful county.

Thames Sailing Barge Blackwater
Thames Sailing Barge on the Blackwater Estuary

The market town of Maldon

Much of The Essex Serpent was filmed in the historic market town of Maldon. Danes and Hiddleston strolled down the historic high street and were filmed in iconic buildings such as the impressive Moot Hall and the Blue Boar Hotel, which dates back to the 14th century. The pair strolled through the town’s much-loved Promenade Park and filmed by the quayside, amongst the towering red sails of the majestic Thames sailing barges.

Although the town is famed for its sea salt, Maldon also offers a bustling high street full of independent boutiques to enjoy as well as a number of tearooms offering delicious treats. Visitors to the town can also hop onto a Thames Sailing barge operated by Topsail Charters and begin their own search for the mythical beast. Treat yourself to a sail on the river Blackwater in a traditional sailing barge – cruises start from £30 per person.

Roam the Blackwater Estuary

As well as sailing, you can also amble along the Blackwater estuary, the site where the mythical beast was said to roam! The snakelike saltmarshes provide a stark yet stunning appeal to the film. The area is perfect for a wander, where you can also view migrating birds and waders. If you’ve got a drone, let it fly high and capture the swirling saltmarshes, which create the most beguiling shots.

Tollesbury Mark Draper Shoot Summer . No Credit Required
Tollesbury

Take to Tollesbury

Another great film location was the quiet village of Tollesbury, an off-the-beaten-track spot, which time forgot, with its white weatherboarded houses and sail lofts. Wander over boardwalks, admire the sea views, and head out to the iconic red lightship, which stands tall in the saltmarshes.

Mosey about on Mersea Island

Danes and Hiddleston were filmed dramatically on a cliff edge at East Mersea looking out to sea. If you head over to Cudmore Grove Country Park, managed by Explore Essex, you can enjoy amazing views of the Essex coastline. Take a break on the sandy beach, search for fossils on the shoreline, or head to the grasslands for a lunch time picnic. The country park and visitor centre are open every day from 8am to dusk.

Drive around the coastline to West Mersea where you’ll find an array of seafood huts, serving the region’s world-famous oysters. Plus there’s colourful beach huts to enjoy and the calm waters are perfect to try out a new skill, such as paddle boarding. Brush-up your technique with Mersea Island Watersports, a ‘learn to SUP’ lesson is £45, or if you wish to hire a board it’s just £20.

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The beach huts at Mersea Island

Alresford Creek and Brightlingsea

The Essex estuaries weave around its stunning coastline and are often best viewed by boat. Jump on a foot ferry from Brightlingsea harbour and travel to East Mersea. Or catch a small cruise boat and head up the river Colne to Wivenhoe where you’ll pass Alresford Creek, a pretty inlet used as the backdrop for the fictional village of Aldwinter. Boat trips from Brightlingsea Harbour run from 10am to 4pm. Trips from Brightlingsea to East Mersea are £4 for adults, £3 for children under 16 years and children under 1 year old go free.  

To discover more, head to visitessex.com

Places to stay

Le Bouchon, Maldon

Le Bouchon is a 300-year-old Georgian hotel that has undergone extensive refurbishment. The original period features have been combined with furnishings and classically styled decoration to complement the hotel. Rooms are priced from £140.

Warren Lodges, near Maldon

Warren Lodges are set in the beautiful natural surrounds of the Warren Estate. The self-catering lodges contain hot tubs and are perfect to spend time with family and friends. Lodges can sleep from 4-6 people and cost from £1,039 for a 7-night stay.

Wivenhoe House Hotel

The exquisite 18th century hotel is situated close to Alresford Creek and nearby Brightlingsea. With a mix of luxury and contemporary classic rooms, the hotel is perfect for families and couples. Rooms are priced from £105.

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