The small village of Wrabness sits overlooking the Stour Estuary in the far north of Essex, with Manningtree to the west, and Harwich to the east.
Wrabness Beach is evidently renowned for fossil hunting, and the UK fossils website tells us that “after scouring tides or stormy seas, fossils are washed up from sediments from the Quaternary. These include bones of deer, horse and whale from the Red Crag, with turtles, shells, and shark and fish teeth within cement stones and pyrite concretions from the London Clay.” There are some very exclusive beach huts, one reputed to be owned by a local Hollywood star. However, the beach is privately owned, evidently from the High Water Mark point up, and access isn’t easy, so don’t turn up in a car with a picnic expecting a long day on a sandy beach.
The Essex Wildlife Trust’s Wrabness Nature Reserve is 60 acres with fantastic views of the Stour. Grassland, scrub and woodland offer a variety of habitats, and there is an adjoining marsh.
Wrabness’ claim to fame is in fact now ‘Julie’s House’ – an amazing building from Grayson Perry, Turner Prize-winning Essex artist, which we have visited a couple of times. It’s a ‘House for Essex’, his tribute to a fictional Essex girl whose progress through life and north through the county from a council house in the south of the county is told in a touching poem by Perry, and through some of his amazing pottery and tapestries (which were on show at an exhibition at firstsite in Colchester in 2017.
Getting there and getting around
The railway station at Wrabness is a good starting/finishing point for a circular cycle ride/walk around the area – whether you drive and park at the station with your bike on a rack, or arrive by train. You can take in villages such as Mistley Heath, Bradfield and Wix, or even cycle to Manningtree and back. The secluded lanes are used for the early stages of the annual Tour de Tendring cycle ride. (And there are some hills!)
By road Wrabness is easily accessible via the top end of the A120 near Harwich, or off the B1352 which runs between Manningtree and Harwich. There is limited parking in the village and in the station car park, especially since Julie’s House now attracts many more visitors to the village than before.
If you want a circular walk around Wrabness follow this Discover Suffolk route.
Wrabness and The Essex Way
Wrabness is only eight miles from the eastern end of the Essex Way at Harwich. As Wrabness itself, and Harwich to the east, and Manningtree to the west, all have train stations, you could do the final 18 miles (or the opening 18 miles if you’re doing the cross-Essex walk in an East to West direction) in two 8 mile sections with the train getting you to and from home. More details on the excellent Essex Walks website of the Harwich to Wrabness section and the Wrabness to Manningtree section.