East of England is one of the least populated areas of England, but also one of the most beautiful. It’s also mostly flat (so ideal if you are not keen on hilly Yorkshire or South West England). A lot of this area is on the coast, where you can walk along miles of quiet sandy beaches. The water across from you is sort of the Belgium and Netherlands area. This is apt. Because if you go further inland, East of England kind of resembles Holland: lots of marshy bogs and fens, with windmills. Very pretty indeed.
There are a few major cities and towns. But mostly East of England is free from the usual chain store fodder, as it has no motorways. So although there are major roads, it has a much quieter and more local feel to it. From basking seals to enjoying a trip down the Norfolk Broads, this is mostly a collection of counties from time-gone-by.
The Counties of East of England
- Bedfordshire is a small mostly rural county, not far from London. The land is flat, mostly within the beautiful Chiltern Hills, although there are few urban areas (the best known being Luton Airport). The main town of Bedford has the highest ratio of Italians in England, a throwback to the immigration of the last World War.
- Cambridgeshire is again a rural county, which aside from the cities of Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough (known to be one of the greenest cities in England) is mostly rural. This is home to the Fens, a series of marshy fertile wetlands, where a lot of our organic box food is grown (in fact, England’s oldest box scheme hails from here). Fens are different from bogs, in that they are fed by mineral-rich water from below (bogs are fed by rainfall).
- Lincolnshire is on the northeast coastline, and has one of the best expanses of sandy shores in England. At breeding time, you’ll find thousands of seals in these parts (leave them alone, and keep dogs on leads if you see any). As one of the few counties without a major motorway, local shops thrive, as there are no gateways for lorries to thunder down, taking food to major supermarkets. The seaside town of Skegness is popular.
- Norfolk is a flat and sparsely populated county on the east coast, with miles of wide sandy beaches, the Norfolk Broads (a series of man-made wetlands that are popular with holiday makers and local wildlife) and windmills galore.You could walk for hours here, and not see anyone. There are towns and cities, but most of the county is very quiet. Even the pretty seaside resorts like Cromer don’t get swamped in summer.
- Suffolk is just below it, also on the east coast. Just as pretty, this is also a county of wide sandy beaches, the Suffolk Broads and pastel-coloured beach huts. The county is one of contrasts: from seaside holiday ports like Felixstowe to inland countryside. Constable’s The Hay Wain painting is set here.