There are far fewer settlements than you might think, and outside the obvious coastal towns there is often little accommodation, or even habitation for mile after mile.
The high-tide point on the River Stour, and hence the Suffolk border, is a few yards from Manningtree station. Parts of the estuary bank downstream to Harwich are taken by the Essex Way. Beyond Harwich (or more properly Dovercourt a mile south), it’s a lonely stretch until the Naze peninsula, overtopping Walton-on-the-Naze. From here, genteel Frinton and blowsy Clacton follow quickly, but after Point Clear creeks lead to Brightlingsea. The tidal Colne takes you past Wivenhoe to Colchester, and that river’s first bridge.
Beyond, take a day to walk the most gastronomic of the Essex islands, Mersea Island. Back on the mainland, beyond the tiny hamlet of Salcott-cum-Verney long lonely marshes twist around the larger village of Tollesbury. Its marshes are perhaps the most atmospheric of all on the Essex coast. The long Blackwater estuary takes you past Goldhanger to Maldon.
After Maldon you circle the vast Dengie peninsula, hemmed in by Blackwater, Crouch and North Sea, with Burnham-on-Crouch an undoubted highlight, rather more so than the new town of South Woodham Ferrers. Battlesbridge and Paglesham follow before Rochford. I’ve continued as far as the entrance to Foulness Island; the mediaeval Broomway to the island has a reputation as one of the two most dangerous estuarial walks in England.
Maybe one day I’ll continue round Shoeburyness to Southend-on-Sea, joining the Thames estuary. I have walked from there through friendly Leigh-on-Sea to Benfleet. The England Coast Path will dip out (or in) at Tilbury, but as long as you avoid the occasional refinery or similar, it is possible to continue near the river all the way to the historic boundary of Essex at the River Lea confluence by Canning Town. The best bit, known as Rainham Marshes, is now a nature reserve owned by the RSPB, and features in my Walking in London. Six more coastal walks feature in my Walking in Essex.