In January 2020, I became a columnist for Essex Life magazine, writing about doggy days out in and around the county. Here is my second article, about Mersea Island…
What to see
Get a feel for the island by parking in West Mersea – the hub of the island – and following the coast path round to Monkey Beach. Admire the waterfront homes as you stroll along, passing scores of bobbing sailboats, and walk until you find a seafood shack or pub you like the look of. Pets are allowed in the bar areas of both the stylish Coast Inn and The Victory at Mersea.
Go fossil-hunting on the beach at Cudmore Grove Country Park, where the remains of a 300,000-year-old mammoth were recently found. This peaceful nature reserve is also home to several WWII pillboxes and has acres of meadows and marshland, as well as a popular children’s play area.
To see Mersea from a different perspective, take a boat ride on Lady Grace. Skipper Stacey offers short 20-minute trips for just £3 and dogs are welcome onboard. Sailings take place seven days a week, weather depending – simply turn up at the end of the jetty in West Mersea.
Remember to check the tide times before you visit the island as the Strood causeway – the only road on and off Mersea – is impassable at high tide.
Where to eat
Mersea is renowned for its oysters and seafood fans flock to the world-famous Company Shed – but although pets are not allowed inside the rustic restaurant, dog owners don’t have to miss out. You can try the local delicacy at the West Mersea Oyster Bar, which has a number of outside tables where your can pooch can join you for a meal.
Dogs are also welcome at many of the island’s pubs – including The Fox Inn, which serves fantastic breakfasts seven days a week and has a big jar of treats on the bar. Mersea Island Vineyard is well worth a visit, too – take home some of its beer, wine or gin as a souvenir.
One of the latest additions to the island food scene is Mersea Barns, which is home to a lovely little café and shop. Dogs are allowed on the outdoor deck of the café, which is renowned for its Sunday lunches but is also a great place to stop for coffee and cake.
While you’re in the area
Enjoy a walk at the National Trust-owned Copt Hall Marshes in Little Wigborough. Be sure to check out nearby St Nicholas’ Church. In 1916, a German zeppelin was shot down right next to it and parts of the airship are on display inside. Look out for the memorial plaque to the lady who was born on the night of the event and christened Zeppelina.