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Hugging 350 miles of blonde-beach coastline, Essex is home to a whopping 87 nature reserves, a buzzy cafe culture and ruins rich in Roman history (Colchester is, after all, Britain's oldest recorded town). Short train hops into the capital are convenient, but you'll soon relish life beyond London: swish spas, gourmet gastros and a labyrinth of salt marshes to kayak through on a sun-dappled morning come as standard here. Part of our Top 260 Best Places to Live series.
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