182. Tollesbury Circular

May 2007

This is another walk of marshes and creeks, this time around the various creeks at the north western edge of the Blackwater estuary. Such is the nature of all these creeks that after nearly 10 miles of walking along the twisting turning banks of the creeks, I’ll end up at Salcott, only around 2 miles from my start point! So rather than bother with busses (there aren’t many in this part of Essex) I decide to make it a circular route and walk back to Tollesbury.

I drove up to Tollesbury via the M25 and A12 because there is limited public transport in this area. It was busy but the traffic kept moving. I parked in the same place as before, in the square in Tollesbury, near the Kings Head.

Tollesbury

I’d like to point out that isn’t my car abandoned in the middle of the square!

Tollesbury

From the square I head east along East Street and then fork right into Mell Road. I then take the second road on the left, Woodrolfe Farm Lane to pass Woodrolfe Farm and reach the marina.

Tollesbury Marina

The marina is busy with boats though there is not much activity despite being the weekend and fairly good weather. At the end of the marina there is a sort of man-made lake which has a path around one side and a road around the other, so I follow the path. Some rather 1970s looking housing backs onto the lake.

Tollesbury

On reaching the road, I turn left and follow the road back around the north side of this lake. This takes me past a few lovely old sail lofts. I’m not sure if they are still used for this purpose or are houses or offices now, but it is nice to see how well kept they are.

Old sail lofts at Tollesbury

The last one of these is being used by some sort of boat-sales business. I’m surprised to see the price of the nearest one. It is small but is priced at £675. I imagined owning a boat was much more expensive than this, which perhaps accounts for why there are so many marinas and boat yards around the Essex coast, either that or there is something major wrong with this boat.

As the road turns inland I can turn right off it and follow the footpath along the grassy bank. Here I’m rounding a marshy creek, Tollesbury Fleet. On my left are more boats just below the sea wall, though these soon end.

To my right is a large area of marsh land. Tiny grass islands dotted with muddy creeks and pools between them. I can see a few plank bridges heading out over the marshes. It is tempting to try and follow them but I can see from there map there is no path onwards, so it will be a dead-end if I do.

Old Hall Marshes

After passing the sewage works, the path heads a bit inland. The land to my right now between me and the creek is marked as land on the map, but it isn’t any more. It is clear the sea wall has been breached, allowing the water to flood in at high tide and hence the path has been diverted off the old sea wall onto the new one.

I’ve seen this a lot in Essex and I suspect it didn’t happen that long ago, because I can see the remains of trees and bushes now dead from the salt water, and the trees are still in neat lines.

Flooded marsh land near Tollesbury

(Oddly, some 10 years later the Ordnance Survey maps still show this area as land – why they haven’t been updated to show it’s now marsh I don’t know).

Past this area of flooded land I’m now back on the route marked on the map and beside the marshy water once more. On reaching the head of the marsh I can continue along the sea wall to turn back to due east towards the sea (but not for long).

I’m now heading for Old Hall Marshes. This is a narrow peninsula of marshy land, more than 2 miles wide but no more than half a mile tall. It appears uninhabited and devoid of any buildings on the map. I assume it is used as grazing land or farm land.

Soon the path meets the end of the road heading out to the marsh at Old Hall Farm. This is the last building I’ll be seeing for a while!

Old Hall Farm

The path now continues on the sea wall out onto this marshy land. I can see now the tide has come in as I look along the creek and can see water rather than mud.

Old Hall Marshes

Looking inland I can see sheep so my hunch about it being used for grazing looks to be right.

Old Hall Marshes

About half a mile further on I’m surprised to find a large area of water to my left (again, not marked on the maps) and the muddy creek on my right, revealing a large area of mud flats. As a result, the path is largely a causeway now!

Old Hall Marshes

There are some wooden structures heading out from the shore to the mud flats. They seem to have been used, at some point, to enclose sections of the water, though for what purpose I’m not sure.

Old Hall Marshes

They look like they are not used any longer, though I know the Blackwater estuary is famous for it’s salt, so perhaps it was related to that.

At Joyce’s Head I turn to head south for a short while, alongside the sea wall where there is water again, and a ruined boat (you can see it sunken and half sideways below).

Old Hall Marshes

The land to my left is a little drier now and seems to be used for grazing sheep which are settled just below the sea bank path.

Old Hall Marshes

Soon I’m heading east again, along the north side of Tollesbury Fleet, though there is little activity to be seen. It is a rather featureless walk, just the sea bank, marshes to my left and mud and creeks to my right.

Nearing the far end of the marshes a little sand spit seems to have formed.

Old Hall Marshes

Beyond that I can see the houses of Mersea Island, only a short distance as the crow flies but still over 10 miles to walk!

In the distance on the other side of the estuary I can see another familiar landmark, Bradwell nuclear power station.

Old Hall Marshes

This bit of the walk is lovely, there is more to see now with the boats moored up in the creeks (now I have reached deeper water), a Thames sailing barge going by and the bird life on the marshes.

Mersea Island from Old Hall Marshes

Zooming in in the distance I can also see a beach and beach huts out on Mersea Island.

Mersea Island from Old Hall Marshes

I’m looking forward to getting there, it is such a long time since I’ve seen a proper beach having spent the last 12(!) walks entirely around marshes and creeks.

In fact I suspect the land I’m now one was once part of these creeks as to my left is Pennyhole Fleet which looks like a creek but the far end has been blocked by the sea wall the path I’m following runs along, so it’s now a sort of long thin lake.

Old Hall Marshes

I’m now heading back west along the southern bank of the next creek, Salcott creek and there are a lot of boats moored just off the marsh. Somewhere out there is another marshy island, Sunken Island.

Old Hall Marshes

The tide is coming in now so it is hard to make out, but I assume it’s the green marshy land between me and Mersea island in the distance.

In the distance I can see some gentle hills which a look at the map suggests is the village of Great Wigborough.

Great Wigborough

The tide has really come in now, it was surprising how quickly it did so and I’m now walking beside water rather than mud, which is now lapping at the bottom of the sea wall.

Salcott Channel

Between me and the open water are a huge number of marshy little islands. I suspect this is what all the land around would be like if it was not for the sea wall keeping the area to my left drained of water.

I’m getting near to Salcott now and soon pass a sign facing the other way, which if I look at the other side welcomes me to the Blackwater Estuary (which I guess I must therefore be leaving) but it does tell me that the Old Hall Marshes where I have been walking are owned by the RSPB and has numerous important designations such as a “Natura 2000 site” and “Ramsar Site”, whatever those things might be.

Salcott creek

A short distance ahead and the footpath along the sea wall ends. There is a lot of road walking ahead, but first I need to cross the farm land to Salcott. I’m pleased to see that the farmer has made the route of the footpath very obvious and made a clear line that is clear of crops. Well done!

Footpath near Salcott

This brings me to the end of the road in the small village of Salcott. It has a pretty church which is obviously well looked after as a man is cutting the lawn as I pass.

Salcott church

Just passed the church there is another footpath off to the left. This is the point where I turn back to Tollesbury as there is no bus service to Salcott (the nearest is on the B1026 to the west of the village). The path initially heads over an area of grass so neatly mowed it looks more like a football pitch, but without the lines.

Salcott

Beyond that it heads across a large field with a distant view of the Blackwater estuary.

Oddly ahead, the footpath on the map is marked as going right over a small pool of water. I walk around the edge of it instead, to pick up a farm track and then turn off it back over the fields. This is not the most interesting walking as the fields are vast.

Near Tollesbury

In a little over a mile I can emerge from the fields to a minor road, the other end of Old Hall Road. Here I turn left and on meeting the “main” road it is odd to see that the road to the left is called Back Road whilst to the right it is North Road. The next section though is not pleasant.

I have almost a mile of road walking. Although not a classified road there is still a fair bit of traffic and no pavement. In places there are hedges beside the road, but much of it is open with small grass verges going straight into the fields, which at least provides a way to get out of the way of the traffic.

It is a relief to soon reach the edge of Tollesbury and the safety of a pavement. I pass the Hope Inn (since closed, demolished and replaced by flats) and continue past the pretty cottages of Tollesbury to head back to the square where I parked.

The Hope Inn, Tollesbury

Tollesbury

This was a pleasant walk, but not the most interesting or varied either, as it was mostly following sea walls beside marshes and mud. But it was nice to see the views of Mersea Island and the bird life of the Old Hall marshes.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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181. Maldon to Tollesbury

May 2007

It’s another walk alongside marshes and creeks as I follow the northern side of the Blackwater estuary back towards the sea to the village of Tollesbury.

Public transport links are sparse in this area, even Maldon – a sizeable town – does not have a railway station, so I’m travelling by car. This time I aim to arrive in Tollesbury in time to catch one of the few busses into Maldon so I can then walk back to my car without worrying about the time or missing the bus. I’m also a bit reluctant to park in Maldon again after incident last time where someone crashed into the car I parked next to, almost pushing it into mine. The roads were busy on the way but there were no major hold ups, it just takes a little longer than I had expected to reach Tollesbury from the A12, as it’s quite far from the A12 at the end of a long B-road.

When I reach the main square in Tollesbury I am in time to catch the bus but surprised to see it is already parked up in the square and waiting. So I hurriedly park grab my bag and head for the bus in case it leaves before I can get there, but I make it in time. My fellow passengers are mostly pensioners heading to Maldon (presumably for shopping) and the conversation on board the bus is all about Madeleine McCann, who went missing a day or two before I did this walk (and still has not been found, more than 10 years on).

A little under half an hour later and I have reached Maldon. I get off in the High Street and follow the road down to the bridge over the Blackwater, this being the lowest point you can cross it (without your own boat, anyway). Although Maldon is a very pretty town, the harbour area is rather industrial and the tide is out, leaving mud flats and just a shallow channel of water.

The Blackwater in Maldon

There is no footpath initially so I have to carry on along the road. For half a mile this heads through the middle of an industrial area, with warehouses all around, though there is a row of houses right beside the road, with industry all around them, it’s not somewhere I would want to live. Just before a roundabout ahead I can turn off on a footpath.

This takes me south east through the industrial area, but with a small area of marsh to my left. This soon opens up to a wider area of marsh, where the path goes along the top of the sea wall to end up on the north side of the marsh.

Heybridge Creek

I can look back to the pretty part of Maldon and the tall church tower I can see above the buildings along the water front. The path I’m on seems to be a man-made causeway over what I suspect was once a mill pond. It’s all silted up now, but there is a building that looks a bit like a mill at the far end.

Heybridge Creek

This is Heybridge Creek and  as is so often the case in this part of the world, the bank is lined with boats, some in good condition, others seemingly abandoned and some rather make-shift wooden planks heading out to the boats.

Heybridge Creek

Thankfully the path is better than these planks and heads along the edge of a bank between the creek and some housing behind. When the housing ends, there is a large and pleasant lake to my left. This is long and quite thin, and spreads for over half a mile towards the estuary. For such a large body of water I’m surprised to see it isn’t named on the map.

Lake in Heybridge

At the start of it there is a car park and then a good gravel path that I’m following on the top of the sea wall between the lake and the estuary. As I head further east I can look over to the pretty quay area in the centre of Maldon, behind the various sails of the Thames sailing barges that line the water front. I liked Maldon very much and it’s nice to see it again.

Maldon from Heybridge

I’m also surprised at the scale of the church in comparison with the rest of the town. It is not a cathedral, but it suggests Maldon was (I think still is) a wealthy place.

Lake in Heybridge

Looking back over the lake I can see more sails and masts to my left too. This is the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. This is a canal (or more a canalised river, if that’s a word) that links the mouth of the Blackwater with the city of Chelmsford, around 15 miles inland. Like most canals it’s use now is entirely leisure and there are a lot of boats moored up along it’s banks. There are quite a lot of birds to watch on the lake too.

Heybridge

I continue to enjoy the ever-changing view of Maldon on the other side of the estuary as I progress and see it from different angles.

Maldon from Heybridge

Maldon from Heybridge

Soon I round the corner, to start heading north east, as the Blackwater makes a sharp turn to the right and the footpath follows it. Ahead I can see the mouth of the Chelmer and Blackwater and once again the banks of the river are lined with all sorts of different boats. Nearest me are some abandoned and rotting wooden hulks, but further on I can see a Thames sailing barge and what looks to be some sort of military boat.

Rotting boats at Heybridge

In fact the whole bank between me and the mouth of the canal seems to be made up of rotting boats, very rapidly returning to nature.

Rotting boats at Heybridge

I continue on the path until I am alongside the military boat. This turns out to be a retired “fast attack craft” called Defender that is I think being restored and behind it a more traditional Thames sailing barge.

Heybridge Marina

Looking inland, Heybridge Basin is a very pretty place.

Heybridge Basin

There is a welcoming looking pub and some brightly coloured clapper-board houses. Thankfully as I hoped there is a path across the lock gate at the mouth of the canal, so I can cross the canal without having to head further inland.

(A couple of years ago I decided to walk the length of this canal from Chelmsford to the coast. It was a nice walk and I decided that as it was an old canal towpath it should be easy going, as these towpaths were designed for horses. This turned out to be a mistake, it was a mud-bath and I remember slipping and sliding most of the way along a very muddy path, as it was winter).

Looking along the canal I can see the numerous masts of the huge numbers of boats moored along the length of the canal. It’s a lovely view, with the masts of the boats reflecting in the ripples of the water.

The Blackwater and Chelmer Navigation at Heybridge Basin

Having crosses the canal I continue north soon passing another pub, the Jolly Sailor next to another marina. Heybridge is bigger than I realised as there are several roads of houses beyond this, then a brief area of greenery and the large Blackwater Sailing club.

The Blackwater estuary at Heybridge

The path goes around this and heads into what looks like an artificial cut of the river as the bank is suspiciously and un-naturally straight and there are what look like old sea-walls out in the marsh, beyond which is Northey Island.

Across the water I can see a pretty old mill of some kind (I found out later it’s maltings).

Old maltings near Heybridge

The creek here is full of more ruined and rotting boats as I walk around the back of it.

Marshes at Heybridge

I passed the old Maltings and onwards past a little lake that seems to be surrounded with chalet-style houses. Out in the estuary there are numerous boats now moored up.

Heybridge

It feels like I’m nearing the open sea again now. I start to see a bit of beach rather than mud, though it is a mixture of shingle and muddy sand.

Mill Beach, Heybridge

There is another hint I’m nearing the sea too, since there is a massive caravan park just to my left.

Mill Beach, Heybridge

At the end of the caravan park I come to the causeway leading to another tidal island (I’m surprised just how many islands Essex has, I’d only heard of Canvey Island when I started walking the coast).

Osea Causeway

At low tide you can walk out here but the tide is coming in now and only a few metres of the causeway is above the water, so it is not possible to walk out there today.

In fact at the time there was no (legal) access to Osea Island. Osea Island has an interesting history. During World War I it was the site of a coastal motor torpedo base with as many as 2000 sailors based on the island. It was used again and occupied by the army during World War II. Later on it was used for filming.

More recently, in 2005 it became a rehabilitation centre specialising in the treatment of addictions and alcoholism, which is what it was being used for when I walked here. For this reason it was strictly off limits to the public and there were warning signs against attempting to access the island. Despite this Peter Caton did visit the island and wrote about it in his book No Boat Required, where he visited the tidal islands around the British coast. I remember that he was discovered and escorted off the island, but did get to see a fair bit of it before he was caught (I recommend the book). I gather a number of celebrities came here, including the now late Amy Winehouse, which perhaps explains the secrecy. However it did not last. In 2010 the nurse managing the centre was suspended and pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed hospital and the judge was reported to have said the standards at the centre “would really shame a third world country”. I guess another reason for the secrecy!

These days I think it has changed hands again and it is now a “Luxury Island Holiday Resort” so it is possible for the public to get to the island but it does not come cheap as even the smallest property on the island you can rent (which sleeps 2) comes in at over £350 for 2 nights (the minimum). So sadly this isn’t an island I’ve been able to visit.

Having passed the causeway the path continues on the sea wall, which winds it’s way past a number of little inlets and marshy areas.

Near Decoy Point, Heybridge

Inland, across fields I can see the tower of the church in the village of Goldhanger.

Farmland near Goldhanger

After a mile or so there is a thinner and longer inlet which I suspect is man-made and was probably once a harbour serving Goldhanger.

Creek at Goldhanger

It is quiet now and I can see the pretty church a few hundred metres away behind hedges inland.

Goldhanger Church

Continuing around the creek I am soon back beside the Blackwater again.

Creek near Goldhanger

At the end of this there is a sand-spit heading out quite some distance into the estuary and it makes me wonder how it has formed and if it is natural or man-made.

Marshes near Goldhanger

Briefly black on the Blackwater after about 100 metres the sea wall heads back around another marshy little inlet at the head of which is a grand house.

Joyce's Farm, near Goldhanger

The map only shows “Joyce’s Farm” here but this does not look much like a farm. If it is, I’m guessing it must be very profitable if this is the farm house!

A sign here tells me this is Joyce’s Marsh and tells me that this was a marshy area drained to create farmland in the 1970s and there are plans to return it to it’s former marshy state which will benefit wintering wildfowl.

Marshes beside the Blackwater near Tollesbury

Rounding the corner I am again back on the Blackwater but there is another area of marsh just ahead, Gore Saltings. Here there is a hole mixture of marshy islands and old rotting wooden structures.

Marshes beside the Blackwater near Tollesbury

Marshes beside the Blackwater near Tollesbury

Soon the path straightens out so I make quicker progress heading east as the Blackwater continues to widen.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

In places the marshes is mixed with a few small shingle beaches.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

Ahead and on the other side of the estuary I can make out another familiar landmark, though not a pretty one – Bradwell Nuclear Power Station.

There is a small creek to go around just ahead and then I’m onto a large area of marshland that forms a peninsula, Tollesbury Wick Marshes.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

A sign tells me I’m now following the Tollesbury Heritage Trail that goes around the edge of this marsh. One of the things I learn, which surprises me is that just ahead there is a pier which was once the terminus of the Kelveldon and Tollesbury Light Railway which opened in 1907. Given the remote location it was, unsurprisingly, not a success and closed to passengers just 14 years later in 1921, but it does wonder why they ever thought it might be a success!

I soon pass the remains of this old pier now just a grassy bank with a World War II concrete Pill box at the end.

Old Tollesbury Pier Station

I walked along for a closer look, but there wasn’t a lot more to see, really.

Old Tollesbury Pier Station

Onwards and the marsh had numerous rows of wooden posts going over it, the purpose of which I’m not sure.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

I liked the patterns formed by the little muddy islands sticking up above the water.

Muddy islands in the Blackwater Estuary

Muddy islands in the Blackwater Estuary

Across the estuary I was now nearly opposite the Nuclear Power Station and it was certainly not any less ugly from this side of the estuary.

Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

At the end of the marsh there was a sand bank creating a little sandy island just off sure and I wondered it this was somehow caused by those wooden posts I passed earlier and they were acting as some sort of coastal defence. Not sure.

Shinglehead Point near Tollesbury

At the far end of the spit I could see over to West Mersea on Mersea Island. As the crow files, it is less than 2 miles. But it is more than 15 miles to walk there, because of all the creeks I have to go around to get there.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

Rounding the corner again I’m soon starting to go around the first of these creeks, Tollesbury Fleet. By now, having been overcast all day the weather is improving and the sun is beginning to break through which makes this last part of the walk more pleasant.

Marshes beside Tollesbury Fleet

It has bought the boaters out too, as there are numerous yachts making their way down the channel, adding a touch of colour.

Marshes beside Tollesbury Fleet

Inland the land is a mixture of marsh, water and islands with sheep grazing on the drier parts.

Tollesbury Wick Marshes

As I’m nearing Tollesbury I see an unusual and very interesting ship ahead.

Lightship at Tollesbury

This  is a light ship and there were once numerous examples of these around the coast, acting as essentially mobile lighthouses though I don’t think any are in service any longer. This one looks to be lovingly cared for now, whatever it is used for.

A short distance ahead and I have reached Tollesbury Marina. As I’ve said before, it seems all towns and villages on the coast of Essex have a marina! It is a well used, too.

Tollesbury Marina

Tollesbury Marina

From the Marina I follow the road inland for about half a mile to Tollesbury, past the old Mason Hall which I think is now part of a school and back to the square, with it’s pretty church. It seems a pleasant village.

Tollesbury Church

This was another walk of marshes, mud flats and creeks, like so much of Essex. However there had been a lot of interest on the way (much more than I had expected), the paths had been good and the terrain and walking easy, so it had been a very enjoyable walk even if the scenery had not been spectacular.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk.

Hedingham bus route 95 : Tollesbury – Tolleshunt D’Arcy – Goldhanger – Heybridge – Maldon. This bus runs 5 times a day Monday – Friday, 4 times a day on Saturday. There is no service on Sunday or bank holidays. It takes around 25 minutes between Tollesbury and Maldon.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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180. Northey Island

June 2017

When I walked the part of the Essex coast around Maldon in 2007 I came across Northey Island. The island is accessed via a causeway which I began to walk out, but a National Trust signed warned that there was no public access without a permit which had to be obtained at least 24 hours in advance. So I didn’t visit the island and planned to come back on a later date.

Roll on some 10 years(!) and that latter date arrived – I finally got around to visiting the island. The island is owned by the National Trust but it is not generally open to the public. Instead to access the island you either need to telephone in advance and make arrangements or attend on one of the (rare) open days (usually a weekend in September every other year).

To arrange access you need to telephone the warden of the island on 01621 853142 and make arrangements to visit. You should do this at least 24 hours before you plan to visit. Generally it seems to be possible to visit providing the warden is there and you can find a suitable time when the tide is low.

I telephoned on Friday with the intention of visiting on Sunday and this was fine. If you are a National Trust member, admission to the island is free, otherwise it is £2 (paid to the warden on arrival) and £1.50 extra if you would also like a copy of the leaflet and map.

Having arranged a time to visit I was told to report to the house on reaching the island. I drove to Maldon. It was a very hot day, with temperatures around 30 degrees and it was a hot and sticky drive up since the air conditioning in my car does not work very well any longer. I parked in Maldon at the Promenade Park as advised and followed the path along the shore south, as I had done on my previous walk. Since I was last here, the National Trust have erected a sign pointing the way from the main facilities of the park, which was handy. On reaching the salt marsh I stopped to put on some sun screen as it was mid June so I knew that I would burn quickly otherwise in the strong sunshine. This was those 4 weeks or so when it looked like we were going to have a great summer.

As I did so I watched a family head out to the marshes and start to walk into the mud to try to reach other areas of the marsh. It did not seem very sensible as they could easily sink into the damp mud! Having sorted out sun cream I headed over to the island, soon reaching the causeway.

Northey Island Causeway

Inland the track meandered over fields.

The road inland from Northey Island

This is because the residents of the island can drive to the island. From the information leaflet I got on the island it seems the public used to be able too, since it showed a car park here at the end of the causeway but clearly it does not exist any longer. Though there is now an information sign, which also was not here last time I came.

Northey Island sign

The tide was low enough there was no water even close to the causeway so I had no problem walking over, but there was plenty of sand and mud alongside.

Mud beside the Northey Island Causeway

On reaching the island, a sign warns access is for permit holders only, which seemed a bit odd, as I didn’t have a permit!

Northey Island Causeway

The track headed along the west of the island. Tree-lined, it provided welcome shade and there were enough gaps in the hedges on the left to provide fine views over the estuary, where I could see plenty of the pretty Thames sailing barges and other boats.

Marshes on Northey Island with the Blackwater Estuary beyond

Marshes on Northey Island with the Blackwater Estuary beyond

Marshes on Northey Island with the Blackwater Estuary beyond

At the northern end of the island the track turned right and a barrier blocked off the salt marshes ahead, a sign warning it was dangerous. I was a bit surprised on reaching the house, that there was a pond on the right and an interesting looking stone wall around it, but the sign ahead warned this was private and that the path around the island went to the left.

Northey Island pond

I started to follow this but the house was now to my right and I realised this must surely be the house I was meant to report to, to meet the warden. I headed back to the private sign and telephoned the number. This started dogs barking and I could hear them on the phone too once the warden answered, I was clearly in the right place!

She came out and introduced herself, took payment (I am not a member) and offered me a leaflet and map of the island for £1.50 which I took up. She also showed me the toilets I could use on the side of her house and offered to fill water bottles if I didn’t have any already (but I did). It was a nice welcome. I was then left to make my own way around the island and back to the mainland.

The island now is roughly ¼ of the size it once was. Originally sea walls were built all around the island, but these were breached during the late 1800s causing much of the island to flood. Now only the south west corner is protected by sea walls, the rest (around 3/4) is all tidal salt marsh now.

Marshes on Northey Island

The sea wall path was easy to follow and had fine views over the salt marshes. I was passing intiailly behind the two houses. One the warden lived in, the other is used as a holiday cottage.

Soon I reached a brief part of the now dead-end old sea wall that could be followed ahead, but it was difficult underfoot so I soon gave that up.

Marshes on Northey Island

This side of the island was exposed to the sun, but I decided to sit here for lunch anyway, it was such a peaceful spot. Once finished I continued around the short path around the island.

On the south west corner of the island the origianl sea wall was moved back about 15 years ago to create more marsh – so the island is continuing to shrink!

Northey House, Northey Island

Cattle were grazing on the field here. Soon I was back at the causeway – the path around the island is only around half a mile.

The Blackwater Estuary from Northey Island

Having completed my navigation of the island I returned over the causeway and back to the mainland. This time I took a different route back to Maldon continuing ahead on the track to the farm (it’s also a a footpath) and going through the gate, then turning right on a footpath that headed back to Maldon. This took me past quite a lot of new housing over what was once fields. A shame to see ever more of the countryside being built over.

Nothey Island was an interesting little island, though a long way to come for a small place like this – which is why I then had a plan for the rest of the day, to head onto Wallasea Island. It was to be a day of island hopping! I knew that too had changed a lot since I first came here in 2006 and I wanted to see the difference for myself (you can see my post about Wallasea Island here).

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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179. Steeple to Maldon

April 2007

On this walk I’m heading around the southern side of the Blackwater Estuary to the closest crossing point of the estuary at a place called Maldon.

I started this walk by driving from home to Maldon. The journey is mostly OK other than some queuing traffic as I reach Maldon. I drove along the main street of Maldon and found a car park signed just off the main street.

I didn’t know much about Maldon, in fact until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know it existed. The only place with that name I knew of was New Malden, which I passed through on the train on the way to work in London. It also looked a fairly bland suburb of London. Maldon in Essex though was very different – it looked a beautiful place, packed with interesting old buildings and a High Street that seemed full of life.

Maldon

I had about 20 minutes before a was due to Steeple so I decided to have a quick look around Maldon before taking the bus to Steeple to begin the walk. This is because the bus was only hourly at the time (it is less frequent now) so I didn’t want to be left with a potentially long wait at the end of the walk.

Maldon

I liked Maldon a lot and enjoyed my wander around the town.

Maldon

I found the bus stop on the High Street and the bus arrived on time to take me back to Steeple. I got off the bus just after the junction of Canney Road, which is where I had joined the road at Steeple last time. I was amused to note a traction engine parked beside the garage of one of the houses.

Traction engine in Steeple

I followed the road back past Hall Farm to the banks of Steeple Creek where I left last time. This time the tide was high so I was seeing water rather than mud.

Mayland Creek

Here I turned left and followed the footpath along the raised bank beside the creek.

Mayland Creek

As is often the case, the path was almost a causeway with water both in front of and behind it at times.

Mayland Creek

Spring is well and truly here now with the blackthorn hedges (I think they are, anyway…) beside the path adding a lovely splash of white with their pretty flowers. The creek now begins to narrow and soon I have reached the most inland point of the creek, near to Mayland. I round the back of the creek and continue on the path at the other side of the creek.

Mayland Creek

At one point, trees mean the path is almost a wooded tunnel and it’s lovely, with the fresh green leaves on the trees.

Footpath beside Mayland Creek

Soon the trees end and the path continues now lined with the blackthorn bushes and their lovely white flowers.

Footpath beside Mayland Creek

Soon the blackthorn comes to an end, but it has been an unexpectedly pretty stretch of the walk.

On my right there is a derelict old wodden jetty. Presumably boats once moored up here but I very much doubt they do any longer.

Disused jetty on Mayland Creek

The path on the west side of the creek is again on the raised bank and on my left are a number of lakes. I suspect the remnants of gravel or salt extraction, they are now being used by fisherman who are clearly, like me, keen to take advantage of the fine spring weather.

The creek is beginning to widen again as I head back nearer (slightly) the sea.

Mayland Creek

It is lovely and peaceful, until a noisy jet ski comes racing along the creek.

Jetski in Mayland Creek

A less welcome visitor of spring – I’m surprised they are allowed down this shallow muddy creek at all (or perhaps they are not, and ignoring the rules). Fortunately they only come down once and head back to the estuary, leaving a smell of petrol in their wake.

I continue alongside the marshes, eventually turning the corner back towards the Blackwater estuary, but I don’t get as far as that, as this creek just emerges onto another, Lawling Creek. The path though is right next to the waters edge now, rather than having a stretch of marsh between me and the water, as I have had up to this point.

It is clear the water lapping at the edge of this sea wall has taken it’s toll as the sea wall has crumbled away, eroding a section of the path away, though there is a well worn path along the back of the eroded area I followed instead.

Sea wall erosion near Maylandsea

Rounding the corner I’m now heading up the next creek, Lawling Creek which stretches for a little over a mile. I soon pass an Environment Agency sign warning that “We plan to carry out improvement works to this sea wall”. Well it is certainly in need of it – but I’m glad I’ve got through before they start and inevitably close the path for a time.

Lawling Creek

The creek is quite wide here with a number of boats moored up, but the tide has gone out now and they are marooned on the mud.

Lawling Creek

I pass an old metal sign “Essex Rivers Board” warning that tampering with any of the groynes or sluices is liable to a £50 fine. I wonder how old the sign is – I suspect the fine would be higher now.

Essex Rivers Board notice

I’ve now reached the edge of Maylandsea. The first part of the town I come to is a sailing club, with most of the boats still under wraps on the grass behind the path. Sailing is certainly popular in this part of Essex.

Maylandsea Sailing club

Just past the sailing club is another narrow muddy creek.

Maylandsea

I follow the path behind this and just as the marsh ends I come to another boat yard, this time Blackwater Marina. There are larger boats here, moored up with wooden decks to reach them, but because the tide has gone out all the boats are marooned on the mud.

Maylandsea Marina

Mixed in amongst the modern boats I came across what I found out was a Thames Sailing barge. I find this boats very pretty and I’d be seeing a lot more of them as the day wore on.

Maylandsea Marina

Past the boat yard and I had a mixture of open water and mud flats to my right. At this state of the tide the land and water seemed to merge because where there was water, it was extremely shallow.

Maylandsea Marina

I continued further up the creek as the water was replaced with mud flats and finally reached the most inland point of the creek, where it looked to me as if an old sea wall might have been breached here.

Lawling Creek

Lawling Creek

Thankfully the path continued right along the sea wall around the north side of the creek.

To my right was a mixture of mud flats and marsh land. Soon I had reached the mouth of the creek, at Mundon Stone Point.

Mundon Stone Point

Again I could see that the sea wall below the path had been eroded as the concrete squares it seemed to be made from was all broken apart, but this time it had not yet taken the path with it.

Near Mundon Stone Point

Now I was back alongside the Blackwater again having rounded all of Lawling Creek, with Osea Island just visible ahead.

The Blackwater Estuary

Zooming in on it, I could make out the large house on this side of the island.

Osea Island

My time along the banks of the Blackwater was short lived though as after about 200 metres I was turning away again to head around another creek, Coopers Creek, this one now mostly silted up and marsh.

Marshes beside Southey Creek

Marshes beside Southey Creek

This one though was shorter and it was less than a mile to get around it where the path then returned to the banks of the Blackwater.

Only a short distance after I had got around this then to my right it was another creek, Southey Creek. This time it I don’t have to go all the way around it, as it is more a water channel than a creek. Out in the estuary is another marshy island, Northey Island.

The main channel of the river Blackwater flows north of the island whilst to the south, where I am is a tidal creek, Southey Creek.

As the creek narrows I pass another fishing lake on the left and beyond that a field of rape seed, already showing the pretty yellow flowers. There is, yet another, creek to get around ahead. This one is Limbourne Creek. The path goes all around the creek inland, but in fact it seems a newer sea wall has been built along the mouth of the creek. It is not marked as a right of way, but there is a well worn path over it, so I follow that, pleased to have been able to take a slight shortcut.

A short distance ahead of this I come to Northey Island. This is a tidal island so at low tide the water in Southey Creek empties out and then you can reach the island on foot (or even, by car).

Northey Island Causeway

There is a causeway going out to the island. Northey Island is owned by the National Trust meaning it is possible – with some effort – to visit it. This is because signs warn you must not cross the causeway unless you have made an appointment to visit the island with the warden that lives on the island (and given 24 hours notice). I’d like to visit the island, but I haven’t made an appointment so for now I have to stick to the sea wall.

Marhses near Maldon

Beyond the causeway much of the land to the left is now fenced off behind a chain-link fence. The creek seems to be a bit of a boat graveyard with several ruined boats abandoned on the mud.

Ruined boats beside the Blackwater at Maldon

Ruined boats beside the Blackwater at Maldon

Soon I reach the edge of Maldon where, characteristically the first thing I come across is a sailing club.

Maldon Sailing club

Beyond this is Promenade Park, which was created in Victorian times. This is a large park on the south bank of the river Chelmer (after which Chelmsford, further inland, is named). It is a very popular place.

Promenade Park, Maldon

The promenade is wide more or road really. There is a dead-end route to my right out to the end of a jetty.

Promenade Park, Maldon

Originally I hadn’t planned to follow it, but there are a few people at the end and an interesting looking statue, so I decided to head along it to take a look. The statue turns out to be of Byrhtnoth, the Ealdorman of Essex who died in a battle against the Vikings in the Battle of Maldon in 991. This really brings it home to me how old the town of Maldon is – it has been here at least more than 1000 years.

Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex

Heading back I can follow this good, though busy, promenade. I have a fine view of Maldon ahead, though looking into the sun it has come out rather lacking in contrast in my photo.

Maldon

It was a beautiful sight though, the pretty church tower and several more of those very pretty Thames sailing barges. As I’m stopping to enjoy the view and taking a few photos a local man comments that “it looks like a film set doesn’t it?”. I can’t help but agree – it looks like a view that has been unchanged for 100 years or more.

The promenade park is busy and it seems like half the population of Maldon is here. It does seem to be a town where the people seem happy and enjoying their surroundings.

Promenade Park, Maldon

The park is very pleasant, now with a lake and fountain to my left and a well kept shelter on my right.

As I near the centre of the town I can look ahead to the masts of all the various different boats moored up on the quay.

The quay at Maldon

I’m not sure if there is any commercial traffic left here, but there is certainly a lot of leisure traffic and I like the view of all the different boats.

As I get closer I realise why there are so many of those lovely Thames sailing barges here. It turns out I have reached the Thames Sailing Barge heritage centre. These barges were originally built here. Now a company called Top Sail Charters owns the yard. Here they still repair these beautiful boats and have their own fleet for hire and for public cruises. Sadly none are operating on the day I was here but it sounds like a nice trip.

Maldon

Thames Sailing barges at Maldon

I enjoy looking around this area though, as there are information boards about many of the boats, telling you when they were built, what they were used for and what they are used for now. It is a lovely little museum.

Thames Sailing barges at Maldon

Thames Sailing barges at Maldon

Just past this though I have to leave the river bank as it is now blocked by a pub and it’s garden, The Queens Head. Just past this the road turns left so I can turn right. I turned onto North Street which turned out to be a (short) dead-end but the next road inland, Downs Road soon brings me back to the waters edge where I pass an area called Watership Down.

Soon buildings line the banks of the river to my right again so I can’t see the river any more. The next view I get is obviously an old dock on the other side, now converted to flats.

The River Chelmer, Maldon

Now I am along the quay still lined with boats of various sizes. This side is still quite pretty, but the other side is a bit industrial, but mixed in with some older mills. I am not sure if they are still used, they look run down and one seems to be clad in asbestos!

The River Chelmer, Maldon

Soon I reach the bridge which marks the lowest crossing point on foot of the Blackwater estuary. Rather than cross it, I continued just ahead for a view further up the river.

The Blackwater Estuary at Maldon

This is the river Chelmer which heads to Chelmsford, the next town inland, though it is a little over 10 miles further inland from Maldon. The Chelmer provided the main transport links to Chelmsford and as a result a navigable canal was created, the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation which provided an easily navigable route that connected Chelmsford with the sea at all states of the tide. These days like most canals it is used exclusively be leisure craft, but the tow path is still intact and you can follow it all the way to Chelmsford.

I’m not going to Chelmsford today though but instead heading back to the car park. Maldon has another little surprise for me. It is hilly!

Maldon

The road up to the High Street is really quite steep as you can see from these buildings that line it. Essex has a reputation for being flat, but this bit isn’t!

Maldon

The road continues, seeming to get steeper but it is lined with attractive buildings, now mostly houses I think I suspect they were once commercial and all painted in pleasant pastel shades.

Maldon

Maldon is quieter now than when I was here earlier, it seems most of the shoppers have gone home (as it’s nearly 5pm) and it is nice to wander the now peaceful streets, admiring the many beautiful old buildings.

Maldon

Maldon

Maldon had turned out to be a wonderful town. It is nice to discover places like this having come not knowing what to expect and finding such a beautiful town.

Maldon

Maldon

Maldon

From the High Street I headed back to the car park. Here Maldon had one further surprise for me. As I approached my car I could see all was not quite well, it looked like the car parked next to mine had parked incredibly close.

As I got closer I realised it wasn’t the case that the owner had parked their car so badly. Instead, someone had crashed into it with such force, they had pushed the car almost to 45 degrees in the space, denting the front wing and dislodging part of the front bumper and leaving it about an inch from the back of my ageing Peugeot 106 parked next to it.

At the time I was working in London and so travelling there by train each day. So I only really used my car for trips at the weekend to go walking or to visit family and friends, so there was no point in spending a lot of money on new, large or expensive car for it to sit idle most of the week. So although it was about 12 years old by this point I would still rather it not be damaged so was glad to see that my car at least was unscathed, even if it did make it a bit tricky to get out of the space. However it did make me wonder how on earth it had happened. I could only assume either someone reversing out of another space had pressed the accelerator rather than the brake by mistake or someone was racing around the car park showing off and lost control, but they must have been going at a good speed to push the car that far sideways! They would have had to jump the curb, too. It did at least look as if whoever did it left their details under the windscreen wiper, but I was glad I had not parked in that space, or it would have been my car that had been damaged.

Although this had been another walk of marshes, creeks and mud I had still enjoyed it a lot. It was helped by the lovely weather, plenty of flowers about, brightening up the path, and plenty of interest to see, such as Northey Island and the beautiful Thames Sailing barges. All the paths were in good condition and other than in Maldon itself all the walk had been on paths rather than roads which made it more enjoyable. Maldon too had been a lovely town to explore and it was nice to come across such a beautiful town as I hadn’t known what to expect, it seems to be a rather undiscovered place.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

On Monday – Saturday Hedingham bus routes D1 and D2 can be used : Maldon – Purleigh – Cold Norton – Latchingdon – Maylandsea – MaylandSteeple. At Steeple the two routes diverge, with bus D1 runing to St Lawrence and Bradwell-on-Sea whilst route D2 runs to Southminster, also serving the rail station. Between them, there are 9 busses per day between Maldon and Steeple and it takes around 35 minutes to make the journey.

On Sundays First Essex route 33 can be used : Chelmsford – Great Baddow – Danbury – West Mortimer – Maldon – Latchingdon – Maylandsea – Mayland – Steeple – Southminster – Southminster Station. There are 7 busses per day (roughly once every 2 hours).

Here is the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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178. Bradwell-on-Sea to Steeple

April 2007

On this walk I leave the open sea again to head into another estuary, this one the Blackwater estuary. I’ll need to head inland as far as the town of Maldon to get around this estuary, but that is too far to cover in one walk so it will take me two walks to get there.

I’m not sure sure, when I set off, where I’m going to end this walk. There aren’t many busses to Bradwell-on-Sea so I plan to just keep walking until it is near the time the bus I want to catch is due and head to the road to catch it.

I drove to Bradwell-on-Sea because this is a remote area with very limited public transport. There didn’t seem to be any car park that I could see, so I parked on the road near the church.

The first part of the walk is re-tracing my steps from last time along the road for almost 2 miles, back to the ancient and beautiful St Peter-on-the-Wall chapel.

St Peter on the Wall Chapel

Once again I am puzzling why Bradwell has the “on-Sea” suffix. It’s not on sea and a good mile in any direction from the centre of the village to the sea or estuary. I suppose “Bradwell-quite-near-the-Sea” would not have quite the same ring. I did wonder last time if the land around had built up but then I noticed on the map right near the chapel is marked the sight of a Roman Fort so this has been land for a very long time.

It is another lovely sunny day and it is peaceful around the chapel. Although not crowded last time it seems today I am here before most of the visitors arrive. The chapel is just a minute or so walk to the sea wall. Across the marshes I can make out a thin line of sand, some mud, and finally some water beyond that. It must be low tide!

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

I turned north along the sea wall. Largely out of sight behind trees is a small religious community presumably drawn here by the lovely chapel. As I head north the marsh thins out and I am closer to what would be the waters edge.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

But the land is so flat the tide goes out a long way, revealing what looks like a good half a mile of mud flats (confirmed later on the map). Some people are walking on the sand at the edge of the shore but you have to walk over a lot of mud to get to it and I’m not sure how easy it will be to walk on, as it looks like soft sand, so I stuck to the path.

I’ve reached a corner on the coast this one oddly marked on the map as “Sales Point” which sounds like somewhere you might find a checkout, but there is of course nothing there. Out to sea though I can see the remains of some wooden groynes or coastal defences and more of those old barges I saw last time. I presume they are from World War II and now made into further coastal defence, now beached on the mud as the tide has gone out.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

In the distance beyond it too I can just make out land on the other side. Checking the map I realise this is Mersea Island, a large island, though it is joined to the mainland by a bridge these days.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

It looks quite close, but it will take me a long time to walk there. As I continued to head north west the water becomes closer to the shore and I can see the old boats clearly placed on the beach at regular intervals.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

On the other side too I can now see Mersea Island more clearly and can make out many beach huts there. It seems odd to me that the beach this side is mud whilst it clearly must be better over the other side.

Mersea Island from Bradwell

As I continue west there is soon a bit of sand just below the sea wall though the rest of the beach is a mixture of sand and mud. The terrain is easy since it is mostly along a concrete sea wall.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

Ahead I can see something of a blot on the landscape.

Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

This is Bradwell Nuclear Power station. Actually strictly it is a former power station, as it had stopped generating in 2002 and is in the process of being decommissioned. The beach now is a mixture of sand, shells and mud. I’m starting to see a lot of shells again now, as I did further south on my previous walk.

Soon there are areas of marsh between me and the water again, though there are people on the beach beyond it.

The coast near St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

After a while, I decide to join them to have a break from the concrete sea wall. Once over the marshes there is some firm sand and it is quite pleasant. It seems strange now that I am heading back up another estuary I’m finding a better beach than I did on the sea-facing coast further back.

The coast near Bradwell

The coast near Bradwell

An area of marsh ahead though forces me back to the sea wall again. This is now grass rather than concrete which makes for a more comfortable walking surface.

The coast near Bradwell

As I progress along the sea wall there are numerous concrete structures just to my right, what I assume are World War II pillboxes. This couple found one to make a handy seat!

The coast near Bradwell

This is another peaceful stretch of coast as I’ve not passed through any settlement of any size and the path is good underfoot. Despite it’s remoteness this seems to be a coast that is more visited, as there are people around most of the time which is nice to see, as there doesn’t seem to be much car parking close by so people have to walk to get here. Inland I’m getting closer to the power station.

The coast near Bradwell

There are also quite a few boats going up and down the Blackwater, all pleasure boats. Despite the activity around I’m surprised to see a Heron fishing at the waters edge – I don’t think I’ve seen one fishing in the open sea like this before, they are more usually found at the edge of rivers, canals and lakes in my experience.

Heron on the Blackwater Estuary near Bradwell

Out to sea there is another odd structure. It looks like a concrete sea wall or breakwater. I think it is in some way connected to the nuclear power station, I suspect an inlet for sea water to cool the reactor.

The coast at Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

Now I’m right alongside the old power station. It is huge, and very ugly. But then we need electricity and power stations have to go somewhere I guess.

Former Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

From this side of the power station there is another lower building too. It occupies a large site.

Former Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

Once past the power station I’m soon turning the corner and reaching the start of Bradwell Creek. This is a small muddy creek that separates a small muddy island from the mainland, Pewet Island. The name Bradwell too is a clue that despite all the miles I have walked I’m now only a mile from Bradwell-on-Sea, because I’ve been falling the sea wall in big loop.

Bradwell Creek

There is nothing much to be seen on Pewet Island. It is privately owned and not open to the public and apparently contains the remains of timber fishtraps from the Saxon era.

Bradwell Creek at Bradwell Waterside

The more sheltered creek seems to provide moorings for a few boats, though one of them is at a rather jaunty angle and another further up on the marsh is clearly abandoned.

Bradwell Creek at Bradwell Waterside

Just ahead I have come to the village of Bradwell Waterside. This is the only part of Bradwell that is actually on the water. It seems to be almost entirely built around yachting and sailing, since there is a yacht club here, a pub (of course) and a large marina.

The boats in the yacht club are all neatly stacked up in what looks a bit like  giant toast-rack to me!

Bradwell Waterside

Beyond this, and the associated slipway I come to the large marina. This has what looks a bit like an airport control tower informing me that I am at Bradwell Marina.

Bradwell Marina

It is a busy place though most of the boats still seemed to be moored up in the harbour their owners presumably not having come out of their winter hibernation yet.

Bradwell Marina

At the far end is a crane, used to lift the boats in and out of the water and there are old rail tracks embedded in the ground here.

Once past the marina I have left Bradwell waterside and it’s a couple of miles to the next settlement.

The coast at Bradwell Waterside

Sadly the path along the sea wall does not last long as irritatingly I come to a sign saying the footpath has been diverted because the sea wall is unsafe. The signs give a name “NRA Anglian Region” and a telephone number in Ipswich. Usually such signs are from the council which makes me wonder if this is an official closure or diversion.

Former sea wall west of Bradwell Waterside

But rather than risk the sea wall I decide to follow the diverted path, as the diversion is not far inland and I don’t want to have to turn back if I find the sea wall has been breached.

Soon I realise that the sea wall has been breached and salt water has flooded in to what I presume was once fields, killing the trees.

Dead trees on salt marsh near St Lawrence

In the distance I came make out the gap in the sea wall, so I’m glad I didn’t try to continue on the sea wall.

Dead trees on salt marsh near St Lawrence

I did wonder if this sea wall breach was deliberate and I suspect it is – it seems quite common now that parts of the sea wall is breached to create new marsh. Looking back, my view is still dominated by the power station, which looms large over the creek.

After about half a mile the diversion ends and I’m back on the sea wall.

Marshes on St Lawrence Bay

Just as I reach the sea wall it turns inland again to head around another small creek, this one St Lawrence Creek.

Marshes on St Lawrence Bay

It is only a small creek though and in about 500 metres I am around it and back on the sea wall. Ahead is the village of St Lawrence. A few fisherman sit on the marshes enjoying the peace and quite and the pleasantly warm weather, as it’s only early April.

The beach at St Lawrence

The path now goes in front of a large caravan park, Waterside Holiday Park. The beach they look out on is a mixture of shingle and mud.

The beach at St Lawrence

Beyond the end of the caravan park there are then houses, so at least St Lawrence is somewhere that is lived in all year around. The path is a pleasant and clearly much walked route now, as it’s quite busy and the grass has been worn away to mud and gravel here.

The beach at Ramsey Island

Part way through the village there is another small boat yard. Most of the boats are out of the water or under tarpaulin still.

The beach at Ramsey Island

Rounding the corner from this there is a small but pleasant shingle beach, backed by marshes.

The beach at Ramsey Island

This part of St Lawrence actually seems to be called Ramsey Island. It’s not an island, but I can see how it got it’s name because a short distance ahead the land inland too has become very marshy, meaning the Ramsey Island does have water, of a sort, on 3 sides.

Ramsey Marsh

Thankfully the raised sea wall keeps my feet dry though. Once around this marshy area, Ramsey Marsh the coast returns to a shingle beach again.

The Blackwater Estuary west of Ramsey Island

Tide tide has come in now, and it is now quite close to the sea wall. Ahead there is another tiny settlement.

The Blackwater estuary at Stansgate Abbey Farm

On the map this is marked as Stansgate Abbey Farm, so I presume there was once an abbey here. Now there is another large boatyard, this one Marconi Sailing Club. Beyond that is the farm itself and here the footpath has to leave the sea wall, with signs indicating the land ahead is private.

There is something rather ironic about this, because at the time I did the walk the farm was owned by the father of Hilary Benn. Hilary Benn was, at the time, the Environment Secretary who had promised to create the England coast path and open the coast up to walkers. Except, it would seem, the part of the coast in front of his families land!

Before I headed inland to get around this farm I could look across to another island in the Blackwater estuary. This is Osea Island.

Osea Island from Stansgate Abbey Farm

Like many islands in Essex this is a tidal island in that there is a causeway uncovered at low tide that means you can walk or drive over to the island, though the casueway is on the other side of the estuary. Sadly the island is private, so I won’t be able to go there when I get around the other side of the estuary anyway, so I will have to make do with just looking. I then continued on the footpath behind the Benn family farm.

Soon I was round this “Private” area of land and reached the head of Steeple Creek, where the path returned to the edge of the creek and then back to the shores of the Blackwater estuary.

Steeple Creek

The tide had really come in now, as all the muddy creeks were full of water, some of which I could actually watch flowing in.

Steeple Creek

Beyond the marsh I was briefly back on the sea wall beside the Blackwater estuary until I reached of another creek, this time Mayland Creek. At the mouth of the creek was a large caravan site, Steeple Bay Holiday Park. This seemed quite a remote place but it was a sizeable park. I suppose it must be popular with people living in London who can easily come and spend the weekend here and whilst the views are quite pleasant it is still quite far from a good beach.

Steeple Creek

I wondered too how long it would exist as the sea wall was collapsing at one point.

Eroding sea wall near Steeple

It was quite busy at the holiday park but just beyond it, I was back to a peaceful path beside the marshes again.

Mayland Creek

Mayland Creek, Essex

It was getting near the time I wanted to catch the bus now, as it does not run often. I decided I could either head inland to the small village of Steeple or continue to the mouth of the creek at Mayland. Mayland was further and access back to the road was a little more tricky there, either emerging to a road near Bramble Farm just east of the village, but where I suspected there was no pavement or bus stop or head even further west which was too far. So I decided to continue only as far as Steeple where I could follow a good path (I hoped), St Peters Way onto the road.

So near the south end of the creek I turned off the sea wall path and headed past Hall Farm, the path soon coming a track leading to the road leading to that caravan site. This emerged ahead to the slightly more main road into the village of Steeple.

The church in steeple

I passed the lovely church with a very old looking steeple (is this how the village got it’s name?) and a pub, which did not look so appealing and another pub, which looked nicer. The village shop on the other hand looked to have closed some time ago.

Steeple Village Stores (former)

It was a pretty village though with many old buildings, some with the white clapper boards on the front. I found the bus stop close to the village shop and had arrived about 15 minutes before the bus was due.

Steeple

Steeple

In the event it was about 5 minutes late, though we arrived almost on time back at Bradwell-on-Sea as no one else got on.

This walk was nicer than I had expected. Mostly right along the shoreline and this shore was more varied than I had expected, with some sand and shingle beaches and some nice views (well, except the power station). It was nice to have something other than mud and marsh to walk alongside and the paths had been good, other than the brief diversion past the breached sea wall.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Hedingham route D1 : Maldon – Purleigh – Cold Norton – Latchingdon – Maylandsea – Mayland – Steeple – St Lawrence – Bradwell-on-Sea. 4 times per day, Monday – Saturday. There is no service on Sundays. It takes just over 15 minutes between Steeple and Bradwell-on-Sea.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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177. Burnham-on-Crouch to Bradwell-on-Sea

March 2007

I was looking forward to this walk because having spent several days walking around the river Crouch it was time to reach the open sea once more. It was also a remote and rural walk so I was looking forward to being able to stick to footpaths not busy main roads.

For this walk I travelled by train to Burnham-on-Crouch and made an early start to do so because this was a long walk and I needed to allow enough time to catch the bus back at the end, as it did not run frequently.

I took the train into London Waterloo, the tube across to London Liverpool Street, a train to Wickford and another to Burnham-on-Crouch, but everything ran more or less on time so I reached Burnham-on-Crouch at around 9:30.

It was another fine early spring day with slightly hazy sunshine. I re-traced my steps from the railway station to the waterfront which took about 15 minutes but Burnham-on-Crouch is a nice town so it made for quite a pleasant start to the walk.

Burnham-on-Crouch

On reaching the water front I turned left, initially re-tracing my steps from last time, though this time there was no one sitting out at the various pubs – because it was too early for them to be open.

Burnham-on-Crouch

I passed the two Royal yacht clubs again, but all was quiet there too at this time in the morning.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Beyond the second of the yacht clubs there is a large boat yard with cranes to haul the boats out of the river and people starting to arrive presumably for a days boating activity.

Beyond the boat yard was a sewage works and then another thing I’ve not seen for a long while – a caravan site. I must be back near the sea again. I did wonder what it was called (probably not “Sewage Side”). I presume they don’t mention the sewage works next door to it in the brochure.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Soon though I left the caravans behind too and I was out in peaceful open countryside with views across the Crouch to Wallasea Island.

Marshes near Burnham-on-Crouch

As is so often the case I passed the usual array of rotting away ship wrecks now abandoned beside the muddy river.

Marshes near Burnham-on-Crouch

On my left too it was as flat as a pancake, as it is all marshland (the Dengie marshes) with the usual array of drainage channels to keep the fields from flooding.

Marshes near Burnham-on-Crouch

There were a few short twists and turns in the sea wall path but soon I came to an arrow-straight stretch. Clearly these are man-made banks with a line of stones and marsh disappearing into the haze.

The sea wall near Burnham-on-Crouch

It was peaceful pleasant and easy walking, as the landscape was flat and the path good so I made fairly quick progress.

View over the Dengie peninsula

The dead straight part of the sea wall soon ended and I was back to rounding a few tiny little bays which were gradually becoming less muddy and having a bit of sand instead.

The River Crouch near Burnham-on-Crouch

Soon I was beginning to turn the corner at the mouth of the estuary and return to the open sea, rather than rivers. Before I got there I had another small area of marsh to round near Holliwell Point though this too was becoming a bit sandy rather than just mud.

The coast near Burnham-on-Crouch

I could look across to Foulness Island where there was an odd tower and a few masts visible. This would be the last walk I’d see Foulness.

View to Foulness Island

As I continued ahead I came to a rather strange site. An old World War II pillbox had been incorporated into the sea bank. Presumably the bank was either re-built or strengthened after the war and rather than remove the pill box they just built the grass over and around it!

Near Burnham-on-Crouch

I suspected it must be high tide, or near enough because now the gentle waves were lapping right at the wall at the bottom of the path.

Soon the grass path widened into a concrete path that felt a bit like a sea-side promenade. I was at last back by the sea rather than river, though there was no beach, the water just came right to the edge of the sea wall.

Near Burnham-on-Crouch

There were no people either, I hadn’t seen anyone since I left Burnham-on-Crouch.

Near Burnham-on-Crouch

It was nice to see the sunshine sparkling off the waves, smell the salt air and look right out to a wide vista of sea, as far as I could see. Lovely.

Ahead I came to a sort of beach. Unusually it was not made of sand or pebbles but rather thousands and thousands of shells. I wondered what it was that must make all the shells wash up here.

Shell beach near Burnham-on-Crouch

There was another strange sight ahead too as I came to a gate across the path that someone had decided to decorate with stuff washed up from the sea, which ranged from shoes to hard-hats wood, fishing debris and even a football. A slightly depressing reminder of how much rubbish ends up in the sea.

Gate on the coast near Burnham-on-Crouch

Before leaving this bit of the coast I headed down onto the beach. It would make a nice lunch stop and I loved taking a close look at the shells.

Shells on the Dengie Peninsula

Often when you find beaches of shells most of them are broken, whether from the force of the waves, people walking on them or both. But here where the coast was marshy and hence the waves tiny and where few people come they were almost all intact.

Shells on the Dengie Peninsula

Having finished lunch it was time to continue and I was surprised (and a little disappointed) by what I saw ahead – miles and miles of salt marsh.

Marshes near Burnham-on-Crouch

Having been walking next to marshes beside the rivers for ages I was surprised to find marsh beside the open sea as well. I assumed that the waves would quickly erode the marsh and soft mud, but it appears not. So the rest of the walk was back to walking alongside marsh, with the sea only just visible beyond it.

Inland I soon passed another World War II structure though it was a very odd shape, it reminded me a bit of a dalek.

Old World War II pillbox

The walking continued to be easy and I soon reached the Bridgewick Outfall.

Bridgewick Outfall

Half a mile or so later there was another outfall, this one Grange Outfall. This is where the various streams and drainage ditches flow out into the sea, but it is all controlled with sluice gates and the lake presumably to try to keep the land from flooding in winter and from getting too dry in the summer.

Grange Outfall

Ahead I soon reached another of these outfalls, this time the Howe Outfall. It was dried up revealing mud flats with the footprints of an animal, a deer I suspect across it. I guessed this must mean the tide was going out, but I could barely see it now.

Near Tilllingham

The flat marshes inland had a few extra paths signed that were not on the map which seemed to be some sort of network of toll briddlepaths with a telephone number to call for a license to use them and the warning that they would be closed on Christmas day.

The tide going out made for some pretty patterns though, I like lines of water between the clumps of marsh on this one.

Near Tilllingham

The marsh seemed to be narrowing now and beyond it in the water I could see a line of old boats. I suspected these were also from World War II and had been placed like this when their purpose was over, to act as a form of coastal defence.

Coastal defences near Bradwell-on-Sea

Once this line of boats ended there were the remains of wooden posts poking above the water, I suspected some other attempt at coastal defence. It was not the only structure though because I soon came across this.

Thingy near Bradwell-on-Sea

What on earth is it? I’ve no idea, I guessed at some sort of device to do with radar perhaps? It was very odd and I couldn’t work out why it was here. Perhaps it was in some way connected with the mysterious goings on on Foulness island, or perhaps to monitor shipping. I didn’t know and there were no signs to tell me other than a warning of high voltage cables, so what ever it was it needed a lot of electricity.

I must be nearing Bradwell now as an Essex Widlife trust sign told me I had reached Bradwell Cockle spit, which looked to be more marsh, but with many shells washed up at the waters edge.

I had walked around 13 miles by now and not passed through any sort of settlement at all but that was about to change. Ahead I had an unusual building.

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

This is the Chapel of St Peter on the Wall. It is a remarkable survivor. It dates from around the year 660-662, making it well over 1300 years old! What a wonderful building and yet despite it’s age it was largely isolated from any settlement. The village of Bradwell-on-Sea is nearly two miles inland (despite the “on-sea” suffix). This too puzzled me. The logical explanation for the name is that it was once by the sea but that the marsh had built up and Bradwell was now further inland (like Rye). But this 1300 year old chapel was on the coast so if it had silted up, it must have been an awfully long time ago.

Still rather than puzzle over the names it was nice to enjoy this lovely location. It is thought that the walls of the chapel are built from the ruins of abandoned roman buildings.

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

Over the years it has not always been a chapel, for a while it was converted to a barn. It was not until the 1920s that it was reconsecrated as a chapel. According to the internet, (which is of course never wrong), it is the 19th oldest building in the whole of Britain and is still in regular use.

This was the first time I had seen other people since I left Burnham-on-Crouch too and most were bird watchers as there is also an RSPB reserve here and several bird hides constructed.

Bird hide at Bradwell-on-Sea

Before I left I wanted to have a look inside the chapel. It was a simple affair, bare stone walls and a paved floor.

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

I wondered how many people must have stepped inside during it’s long history. It was a wonderful place. I am not sure the significance of the wooden shelter next to the chapel though.

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell

I had made better time than expected so far because the path along the waters edge had been easy and because it was not that varied there had been little to stop and look at on the way.  So I had plenty of time to sit and take in the view before continuing.

As this had already been a long walk I planned to end my walk, at least along the coast here and walk inland to Bradwell-on-Sea (which is inland and hence not on sea) in order to catch the bus back to Burnham-on-Crouch. As I had not passed any sizeable places busses were few and far between out here (and in fact you now have to phone and book this bus a day in advance now – see the bottom for details). So I turned inland here initially along a footpath that soon widened to a track and a car park – which explains where all the people had come from.

Bradwell-on-Sea was a pleasant place. I was also struck by the peace of the place.

Bradwell-on-Sea

Other than when a car passed, obviously there was no road noise, being far from a major road. It was also far from the railway line and didn’t seem to be on any flight paths, so it was lovely and peaceful with just the occasional car coming past.

The church here was also sizeable suggesting it had been a wealthy place (perhaps it still is).

Bradwell-on-Sea

Unusually the tower on the left was brick and obviously a later addition.

Bradwell-on-Sea

I continued down the pretty little High Street past these colourful houses and located the bus stop.

Burnham-on-Crouch

I had printed out the times of the busses before leaving home, as it was not a frequent service and was confident I was in time for the last bus of the day. However I scanned the timetable with dismay and realised the times didn’t match what I had printed, and it seemed I had in fact missed the last bus by about 20 minutes. I began to panic a bit. How had that happened? Would I be able to get a taxi to come here? How long would it take? How much would it cost? Did I have enough cash? I decided to look for a telephone number for the bus company to check with them first and spotted that the bus timetable I was looking at had the right route number, but it said it was operated by Stephenson of Essex. The timetable I had printed out the previous evening said the bus was run by a different company, Arriva. Then I spotted something else I’d missed. The timetable printed at the bus stop was listed as “From 02/04/07”. Today was the 31st March 2007. So it seems the times changed on Monday and someone had changed them over early.

So I stood and hoped the expected bus would come and the times I had were still correct for this day. And it did, though it was a titchy little bus, basically a Mercedes van but with seats in and a colourful “Dengie Village Link” colour scheme (this area is known as the Dengie Peninsula). I was expecting the bus to be almost empty but in fact there were quite a few people on board and as we headed back towards Burnham-on-Crouch we picked up more people until it was almost full. As we reached Burnham there was a rather unexpected experience, as a man with a big camera round his neck flagged down our bus. He explained to the driver he was a journalist from the local paper and wanted to take a photo of the bus (and the passengers on it) to record the arrival of the final bus operated by Arriva of this “Dengie Village Link” service. I guess not much must happen around here if a bus changing to being operated by a different company is worthy of a newspaper article! So probably there was a photo of me and the other passengers in the local newspaper (though I never did look it up to find out).

After that excitement it was time to get off the bus and head back to the railway station for my train home.

This had been a lovely walk. Whilst I would not call the scenery spectacular it was still very pleasant, peaceful and relaxing and it was nice to be back beside the sea rather than a river again, even if it had turned out to be far more marshy than I expected. The chapel at Bradwell too was an unexpected and lovely end to the walk.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. Note I believe that it is no longer possible to just turn up and catch the direct bus, you must book it. To book call 01621 874410. You should call the day before however it might be possible to book up to 2 hours before travel. You will be given a time to wait for the bus which might differ by 10 minutes from the timetable.

Essex DartD4 : Bradwell Waterside – Bradwell-on-Sea – Tillingham – Dengie – Asheldham – Southminster – Burnham-on-Crouch. 5 buses per day each way Monday – Friday and 4 on Saturday. There is no service on Sunday. It takes around 40 minutes between Bradwell-on-Sea and Burnham-on-Crouch. You need to book at least the day before for this bus to operate. To do so call 01621 874410, email  bookings@essexandsuffolkdart.co.uk or visit the website.

Here is the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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176. North Fambridge to Burnham-on-Crouch

March 2007

I only have a short walked planned today, between North Fambridge and Burnham-on-Crouch. This is because the day was too short last time to make it all the way to Burnham-on-Crouch and beyond Burnham-on-Crouch the coast is surprisingly rural and as a result it is over 15 miles until the next settlement along the coast (and that is only a small village).

This time, as a result of engineering works on the trains I travel to North Fambridge by car, via the M25, A127, A132 and finally B1012 along which I walked last time. I parked at the station car park as I’m planning to return by train and trains on the Crouch Valley Line are not effected by the works.

I returned to the coast via the roads, passing the Ferry Boat Inn once again.

The Ferry Boat Inn, North Fambridge

This time on reaching the river Crouch it looks to be about high tide. The acres of mud flats I saw last time are replaced mostly by water with a few bits of marsh poking up above the water.

The River Crouch at North Fambridge

That house I commented on last time, Port Moor Cottage, was now on it’s own marshy island and that was barely above the water. It is certainly a precarious (or perhaps insane) place to build a house.

Port Moor Cottage, North Fambridge

To reach the water I pass through a boat yard and then reach the banks of the River Crouch. Here a pretty boat is moored up which I later found is a Thames sailing barge, something I’d be seeing a lot more of along the coast soon.

North Fambridge

Beyond the boat yard there is a pleasant path along the raised bank beside the river.

Marshes near North Fambridge

Behind is the low-lying marsh land of Blue House Farm that I passed at the end of my last walk. It is pretty boggy, though the path I’m on is a bit muddy underfoot, too.

Marshes near North Fambridge

The raised sea bank I am following is almost a causeway, the river to my right and water channels behind, I think a way of stopping the land behind from flooding.

Marshes near North Fambridge

Marshes near North Fambridge

In fact the land behind is cross-crossed with numerous water channels. Although the path looks well walked I haven’t seen anyone since the boat yard and it is very peaceful.

In a little over a mile the sea wall path turns a bit to the left as Bridgemarsh Island is now in the middle of the river, so I’m following the narrow channel between the island and the north banks of the Crouch. Although island is over-stating things a bit now as the island was flooded 1736. The tide seems very high and all I can see of this marshy island is a few bits of the old sea wall poking up above the river. Predictably though this is still enough land for someone to have come and put a “Private Keep Off” notice on it!

The River Crouch near North Fambridge

Inland trains rumble along the Crouch Valley Line (always re-assuring since I’ll be using the train to get back to Fambridge) and it is also clear that spring has sprung. It is only early march but already there are lambs in the field to my left.

Near North Fambridge

Lamb near North Fambridge

Inland, beyond the railway there are even hills on which I can see Stamfords Farm. They must have a lovely view.

Out in the river I can still see a few bits of marsh – still Bridgemarsh Island.

The River Crouch and Bridgemarsh Island

It is a pleasant walk along the rivers edge heading east. Ahead I can see the small village of Althorne. It consists of only a few streets and a boat yard.

The coast west of Althorne

Before I can reach it though there is another creek to round. On my last walk I rounded about half a dozen creeks but thankfully this one is small and seemingly un-named.

Creek west of Althorne

It does not take long to round the creek and on the eastern side I’m now passing close to the houses of Althorne. Despite it’s small size the village is lucky enough to have it’s own railway station too, so I imagine many people commute to London.

The River Crouch at Althorne

I soon reach another marina. with a large boat that looks like a house boat.

The River Crouch at Althorne

I continue along the sea wall path and at the eastern end of the village reach another larger marina where numerous boats taken out of the water for the winter (or perhaps for repairs). The path goes through this on a raised bank with boats on both sides of me.

Althorne marina

I’m guessing by the number of boats Althorne is a wealthy place too, – given the numbers of boats it seems each house must own one!

Just beyond the boat yard I come across this curious structure which I suspect is the old wheel house of a boat that looks like it is used as some kind of shelter now.

Marshes at Althorne

Beyond it the marshes are cut into neat squares, so I suspect there was some industry here at one time (perhaps salt works?).

The River Crouch near Althorne

The boat yard marks the end of Althorne and so I’m back to countryside. In about a quarter of a mile there is another small un-named creek to round and the path goes right around it.

I’m then back on the river and have also reached the end of Bridgemarsh Island, so I’m looking across to the other side of the river rather than the island again now.

The River Crouch near Althorne

Ahead I soon come to a small shingle beach. It is not much of a beach but it’s the first sign that, at last, I’m nearly back at the open sea. There is a beach and sea weed rather than mud and marsh and I’m looking forward to finally seeing the open sea again.

The River Crouch near Althorne

Ahead too is another surprise. There are small hills, though they are hardly taxing to climb.

The River Crouch near Althorne

As I get closer though I’m pleased to see these hills have even caused little cliffs. It is starting to feel like the coast rather than a river again.

The River Crouch near Althorne

Although the hills aren’t high, the height gained is still enough for me to get a good view back to Althorne and the masts of the boats in the boat yard.

The River Crouch near Althorne

On the other side of the hills is another small area of shingle beach, mixed with marsh.

The River Crouch near Creeksea

A few boats pass along the river Crouch to my right, the first I have seen today.

The River Crouch near Creeksea

I’m now approaching the small village of Creeksea and just before it I briefly have to leave the river bank as the path temporarily leaves the bank and heads about 100 metres inland. This is not for long though and it soon brings me back to the road.

It is clear when I reach the road that it is a tidal road, either that or it is an unusually high tide because it is partly underwater. Fortunately there are either some dry bits of tarmac between the pools of water or I can climb onto the grass verge to get past (this is the view looking back along the road).

Road at Creeksea

The road soon turns inland and at this point a footpath resumes along the sea wall. Creeksea is a beautiful little village as I can see a lovely timber-framed house and several other houses of varying ages along side.

I’m nearly at Burnham-on-Crouch now and can see the houses right along the water front ahead. What isn’t so clear until I’m almost on top of it is that there is a large marina between me and Burnham-on-Crouch. So I have to walk around it, but thankfully there is a path all around the marina.

Burnham-on-Crouch marina

There are loads of boats moored up in the marina and it makes me wonder if everyone that lives in this part of Essex owns a boat!

Burnham-on-Crouch marina

Once past the marina I’m back on the sea wall through a park and then reach the edge of Burnham-on-Crouch.

Burnham-on-Crouch

I don’t know much about the town but it turns out to to be lovely. Most of the buildings are initially white clapper-board houses. Later on there are more varied styles.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Burnham-on-Crouch

The land is really low lying here though and it seems that the town is built behind a concrete sea wall to protect it from flooding.

I really like Burnham-on-Crouch it is packed full of character and beautiful well-kept buildings. It also looks the sort of place that hasn’t really changed much in many many years. There are several water front pubs and although it’s cool people are already sitting out. It seems like a relaxed kind of place where people enjoy the area they live in.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Burnham-on-Crouch

It is wealthy too and soon I come to the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. A short distance past that there is another yacht club. This one is the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, though I don’t much care for the building that houses it.

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch

There doesn’t seem much point in continuing along the river now, since I will only have to re-trace my steps next time so I head inland instead through the town to the railway station which is a little over half a mile from the river bank.

I don’t mind walking through the town though, it is quite pleasant.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Burnham-on-Crouch

After a bit of road walking I reach the railway station with the Station Hotel right next door. Unlike most of the stations on this line this one has a building and is quite traditional.

Burnham-on-Crouch station

I have about 15 minutes to wait for the train back to North Fambridge and so I’m soon back to my car.

Although I’ve since written about Wallasea Island this was from a return visit in June 2017. In fact when I first walked the Essex coast in 2007 I initially missed out the island as I didn’t have time to explore it and reach my destination before it got dark.

But now I had my car with me, it was a nice sunny day and I still had a couple of hours before it got dark. So rather than head straight home I decided to go to Wallasea Island and explore a bit. It is interesting to compare what I saw then with how it had changed, 10 years later.

So I drove down to Wallases Island. It took longer than I expected, it was only a few hundred metres as the crow flies but almost a 20 mile drive, because of the river Crouch. So it was over an hour after I left Burnham-on-Crouch that I reached the south bank of the river.

The River Crouch from Wallasea Island

I parked at the pub at the end of the road, at the Creeksea Ferry Inn. I wasn’t quite clear if this was the pubs car park or a public car park but there was lots of space so I parked at the back and hoped they wouldn’t mind.

I passed a jetty with some cranes on it for lifting the boats out of the water.

Essex Marina, Wallasea Island

Beyond that was a large marina. Essex was reminding me a bit of the Solent, you can’t go more than about a mile before coming to a large marina!

Essex Marina, Wallasea Island

Past this were some old barges (I think) now abandoned in the mud. Not sure if they are from World War II or something later.

Inland the island was as flat as a pancake and more or less totally featureless, just large fields.

Wallasea Island

Soon I was looking across to Burnham-on-Crouch, where I had been an hour or more earlier in the day.

Burnham-on-Crouch from Wallasea Island

Ahead I came to an area where the sea wall had been deliberately breached to create more marsh land. As I wrote last time, since this visit a much larger proportion of the island has been flooded and turned into marsh.

The sun was getting low now and bathing Burnham-on-Crouch in a lovely golden glow. I continued a bit along the sea wall path enjoying the reflections of the boat in the water and the mud flats which were now appearing as the tide went out.

The River Crouch at Wallasea Island

The River Crouch at Wallasea Island

Soon the sun was almost setting so I had to head back to my car and the drive home.

Sunset at Wallasea Island

I had really enjoyed this walk. After the difficult road walks further up the river it was nice to be able to follow a good river-bank path virtually the whole way. It was peaceful and beautiful and the bonus was that Burnham-on-Crouch had turned out to be such a nice town, too. I was still looking forward to finally reaching the mouth of the river Crouch on my next walk, though.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk.

Greater Anglia trains Crouch Valley Line : Southminster – Burnham-on-Crouch – Althorne – North Fambridge – South Woodham Ferrers – Battlesbridge – Wickford. Trains run roughly every 40 minutes Monday – Saturday and hourly on Sundays. It takes around 11 minutes to travel between Burnham-on-Crouch and North Fambridge.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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