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.
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.
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.
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.
Beyond the boat yard there is a pleasant path along the raised bank beside the river.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I soon reach another marina. with a large boat that looks like a house boat.
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.
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.
Beyond it the marshes are cut into neat squares, so I suspect there was some industry here at one time (perhaps salt works?).
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.
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.
Ahead too is another surprise. There are small hills, though they are hardly taxing to climb.
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.
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.
On the other side of the hills is another small area of shingle beach, mixed with marsh.
A few boats pass along the river Crouch to my right, the first I have seen today.
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).
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.
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!
Once past the marina I’m back on the sea wall through a park and then reach the edge of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Soon I was looking across to Burnham-on-Crouch, where I had been an hour or more earlier in the day.
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.
Soon the sun was almost setting so I had to head back to my car and the drive home.
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.