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Deep water

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

Discover how the sea has been friend and foe to Harwich over the centuries

greater london greater london

At 350 miles long, the Essex coast is one of the longest of any county in Britain. On a map, the eastern edge is cut with jagged indentations like crooked fingers which are the county’s many rivers.

Harwich, located at the mouth of both the Orwell and the Stour is a good place to start exploring this estuarine landscape.

The story of Harwich is a maritime tale. It’s about how water has shaped not only the physical aspect of the town but its character. Discover the secrets of this delightful Essex town as you wander along the seafront, see the lighthouses that guided boats safely into harbour and a shipyard which built the finest warships of its day.

Stroll the charming streets of the old town and hear stories of the town’s seafaring past and its present role in keeping mariners safe. Walk out on the town's Victorian pier and be awed by the architectural beauty of Felixstowe skyline across the water.


Discover 'one of the best-kept secrets in Essex' for yourself...


Walk Info


1 ¼ miles

a flat route along the esplanade and through the old town

tooltipa flat route along the esplanade and through the old town

Suitable for:
plenty of seaside sights to interest children

tooltipplenty of seaside sights to interest children

an entirely step-free route

tooltipan entirely step-free route

should be kept on a lead in the town centre

tooltipshould be kept on a lead in the town centre

East of England
Shaping the landscape Exploiting the landscape Working landscapes
Harwich Town railway station
The Esplanade near the Low Lighthouse
Getting there:

tooltipnearest station Harwich Town. Change at Manningtree from London and East Anglia

tooltipaccess from Junction 29 of the A12, charges to park in town

tooltipmany local routes and long-distance coaches

tooltipon National Cycle Route 1 Fakenham to Harwich


Harwich mural detail
Ross Millar © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


The High Lighthouse
© The Harwich Society

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!


Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Find out what other people said about this walk

An interesting stroll through the maritime geographies and histories of Harwich, showing how the town’s development is closely connected to its seaside location.

Adrian Murphy, London

We went on this walk in July 2014 and were able to combine it with the town's Open Gardens event. The walk is excellent: just the right amount of detail not to distract from the pleasure of walking and very interesting content. We really felt we'd got to know Harwich as much as is possible in one day. The RGS were extremely helpful in pointing us to this walk and providing a copy.

Sally Brearley, Sutton, Surrey

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Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window

The Harwich Society

Everything you ever wanted to know about Harwich

Electric Palace Cinema

Beautifully restored cinema and the cultural heart of Harwich

Online guide for locals and visitors alike

Harwich International Port

'Harwich - A Town of Hurry & Business'

A personal walk around historical Harwich

Hamford Water National Nature Reserve

Explore the creeks and marshes - the setting for Arthur Ransome's Secret Water

Relief of Lightship "Barrow Deep" by Clacton Lifeboat 1961

Short film showing the Clacton lifeboat delivering supplies to the men of the Barrow Deep lightship at Christmas

The Alma Inn

Historic pub and dining room

Harwich Harbour Foot Ferry

Harwich Lifeboat Station

National Piers Society - Ha’penny Pier

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

Wrabness Nature Reserve

Stroll through a wood and watch wading birds, ducks and geese on the estuary

Harwich and Dovercourt - a time gone by

Bygone photos of Harwich and Dovercourt


The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk


Neil D’Arcy Jones for creating the walk


Caroline Millar for compiling the walk resources, editing the audio commentary and taking photographs


David Whittle for his invaluable assistance and local knowledge


Ross Millar for providing photographs


Rory Walsh for assistance editing the walk materials


The Harwich Society for helpful information and kind permission to use archive images


Ken Brown, Fast Track Images, Chris Holifield, Bob Jones, Stephen McKay and Oxyman for further images


Adrian Murphy for testing the walk and providing useful feedback

thank you
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