When you are an international star you get to visit some of the most stunning coastlines anywhere on the planet. Yet for ROD STEWART there is no place like the Essex coast.

Growing up in London you can’t look out of your window in the morning and see the sea gently creeping up the beach like you can in many places of the world so I think that it starts to live in your heart all the more when you get to be on the coast just a few times a year. That’s how it was when I was a boy and it has never changed.

As a Londoner – although my Dad was a Scot – we used to have day trips to places like Brighton and Margate and when it was hot we burned our feet on the scalding pebbles. But we also went for holidays in places like Clacton and I think that is where my real love of the coast grew.

Clacton was a bit special. Southend was good but being in the Thames estuary the beach went from pebble to mud. At Clacton and all along that coast including Jaywick, St Osyth and back up to Walton-on-the-Naze you had proper beach and could walk for miles along some really fascinating coastline.

Clacton – and its pier – hold fond memories for Rod. Credit: Visit Essex

The Martello Towers are still standing and they are like old friends from childhood. The beaches are still sandy and Clacton pier not only extends your view but you can watch people fishing. That fascinated me when I was a kid as well, although a lot of what people caught were just little crabs. Still a thrill though.

There’s a lot of history on the Essex coastline and I never tired of it. Looking at to sea you used to occasionally see boats and – even more exciting – there was always the chance of seeing porpoises or even dolphins. Brightlingsea has great fishing traditions, a proper fishing village where you could always get the freshest of prawns, whelks and winkles, as well as crabs of course. So that whole coastline has everything from seafoods to arcades, something for everyone and only a short drive or train ride from London.

Sometimes when we travel abroad we are so taken aback by the amazing beaches and palm trees that we forget that we live on an island which is surrounded by a coastline that is so diverse. The colours of the sand are different around the coast, the texture of the sand is different too and we go from big cliffs to marshland and back in just a few miles.

I still have a home in Essex and it doesn’t take long to get to the coast. Like most things it is probably more commercial now than it used to be but that doesn’t stop it being very beautiful and a great part of our national culture as well as our personal history.

For more ideas on what Essex has to offer, and what you could explore there, read our article here.