At last after all that walking around estuaries, rivers and creeks I was going to reach the open sea again on this walk, ending at the large resort of Clacton-on-Sea.
As St Osyth does not have a railway station I travelled by car for this walk. From the A12 I took the slightly more back route via Thorrington rather than the A133 as I suspected the latter would become congested on the approach to Clacton, it being a fine summer weekend in late July.
Thankfully I did not have any major hold ups and parked near to the church in St Osyth.
St Osyth is a pretty village and very peaceful and I enjoyed a brief wander around the village before I set off.
Once ready to go I headed west along the road back to the pretty former Abbey buildings and onwards past the pretty clapper-board houses of the village.
Soon I was back at St Osyth Creek where I could then cross via the bridge and resume my walk along the coast.
I was amused to see some rather unusual craft moored up on one of the jetties in the creek – these giant swan pedalos, which looked rather out of place on a creek like this.
Looking in the other (coastal) direction the creek is full of moored up boats and barges, and I did wonder how often any of them move.
Once over the creek I could turn right and follow a footpath right along the south edge of the creek towards the village of Point Clear. I was back in the familiar landscape of the Essex coast, salt marsh, creeks and mud flats!
Though it was clear that some of the ponds in the salt marsh were far from natural being almost completely square. I suspect either Oyster Pits again, as there are some marked on the map on the other side of the river, or perhaps used for getting salt.
In fact the land I was on was almost an island, a raised sea bank with the marsh and creeks to my right and a drainage ditch to my left beyond which was a large caravan park. Not seen one of those for a while – I must be near the sea again!
Now I could look across the now wide river to Brightlingsea where I walked last time. So many miles walked but so little distance covered as the crow flies!
Point Clear, where I’m now reaching is a linear village which stretches along a spit of land with St Osyth Creek on one side and the sea on the other.
Near the end a Martello Tower is marked sadly it was within the caravan park and behind hoarding so I didn’t bother to investigate it further.
Looking out to sea instead there was a thin spit of sand at the tip of the peninsula with the beach huts of Brightlingsea visible just behind that.
That tower definitely has a lean to it. Sure it might not be the leaning tower of Pisa, but still, I’m sure it leans!
I decided to walk out along the spit for a better view, as it was only short.
At the far end I was so close to Brightlingsea, but the water was deep and fast flowing, so it would be far too dangerous to ever cross, other than by boat. Mind you I didn’t want to linger on the spit of sand I was on either – it was only very narrow and I wasn’t sure if the tide was still coming in or not!
Once back I continued along the beach towards the centre of Point Clear. Here was another familiar sight. The Mersea to Brightlingsea ferry which it turns out also links Brightlingsea with Point Clear!
It was just arriving with some passengers whilst this man and his dog was waiting to go back. You can see though how I missed it at West Mersea as the ferry just seems to stop against the beach rather than at any sort of jetty. I’m not sure how you summon it, other than knowing where to stand.
Now I was back on the open sea at last, the sound of the waves breaking on the beach a lovely sound that I’d not heard for a while.
As well as sounds I hadn’t heard for a while, there were also sights I hadn’t seen for a while too – zooming in on my camera I could, once again, see the remains of Bradwell Nuclear Power station on the other side of the Blackwater estuary.
I estimated I had walked around 70 to 80 miles along the ground since then, and yet as the crow flies I was only a few miles away – it really highlights how the Essex coast is so full of rivers, creeks, streams and marshes, and how that really adds to the miles.
Rounding the corner the caravans had ended and I now had more permanent homes, tightly packed bungalows behind a concrete sea wall. It was not the most appealing coastal settlement I had seen!
Still it was lovely to be able to walk along the beach again. The tide was high though so the sand was softer making it a bit hard going, but I didn’t mind, I was enjoying being back beside the sea.
Sadly soon the beach ended as the tide was high so I had to continue on the sea wall ahead, though the beach did soon resume I stuck to the sea wall.
Families were now beginning to appear sitting on the beach, enjoying the fine summers day. Sadly my nice walk along the coast was about to come to a temporary end.
Ahead the beach narrowed. The footpath I was on turned inland to join the road. Although a sea wall continued along the map behind the houses there was about a mile without any right of way along it, a footpath joining the sea wall again about a mile ahead. I had hoped it might be possible to walk along this anyway but it was soon clear that would not be an option.
An unfriendly barrier had been set off blocking off the beach and heading some distance out into the sea to stop you getting past.
So I was going to have to turn inland here, as it was clear there was no further access possible along the shore.
I continued along the road past the now much larger houses of Point Clear until I reached a sign indicating I was leaving Point Clear and entering St Osyth. I was back on the road now just a couple of hundred metres from the causeway where I started, I had walked in almost a complete circle!
As I reached this sign I spotted a road sign pointing down a road on the right. It was signed as a “Private Road to Lee-over-Sands”. I wondered if the private only applied to vehicles and if it was permitted to walk along the road. I thought it was worth taking a look, if I could get through it would save about a mile of walking. So I followed it as it turned right and then left towards Lee Wick Farm. Sadly this looked very much private as it headed towards the farm yard and I decided not to risk walking through, but to head back to the road.
It was frustrating to have to turn back but I suspected I’d be spotted if I continued and given the road was clearly signed as private, I’d have a hard time arguing I didn’t know and thought it was a footpath. So after a frustrating wasted 15 minutes I was back at the road and this time continued ahead. When the road turned sharply left towards the causeway I continued on the minor road ahead to Wigboro Wick Farm (great name!).
I could see this time from the map that when this road reached the farm a public right of way continued across fields and back to the sea wall. So I continued along the track and through the farm where there was indeed the footpath. It meandered alongside drainage ditches and water channels on this very flat land. It did not look to be used much, as it was quite overgrown for quite a bit of the route.
I passed these odd concrete structures, I assumed relics from World War II.
I continued eventually to emerge onto that private road I tried to follow earlier which to my left lead to a rather wiffy sewage works.
A short distance further along the path and I am back on the sea wall where thankfully the footpath continues again so I can resume my route along the coast, even if it has reverted to the more usual scenery for Essex – marshes!
Soon I near the village of Lee-over-Sands. This is a small and un-appealing hamlet. The houses such as they look rather temporary and run down, and most are raised up on stilts presumably because this area floods at high tides or storms.
Some of the houses look abandoned but it’s difficult to tell.
Checking the map I realise the only way the owners can get here is along that private road I gave up on earlier, so perhaps I should have been braver and just followed it earlier, but it’s too late now.
At the end of this rather ugly hamlet the path turns a little further inland behind a larger area of salt marsh, so views of the sea are more limited. It is a peaceful and pleasant stretch of path though.
After about a mile I reach more rather ugly buildings. I’m not quite clear if these are holiday chalets or permanent homes. Either way they are not pretty.
Now back on the shore again at the end of the marsh I was hoping for a nice beach. But that too is un-appealing, mostly consisting of broken up bits of concrete.
Cars are parked at the back of the beach here and a sign warns “Rough road subject to flooding. Drive at your own risk”. Hmm, I’m not warming to this corner of Essex.
I was hoping for a nice beach, but this feels more like some sort of industrial wasteland, with an odd shelf of land forming at the back of the beach.
The beach ahead gets much busier and soon I’m at the main beach car park of the village of Seawick.
This village seems to consist almost entirely of caravan parks and chalet parks. I soon pass the main park facilities, the bar and fish and chip shop, which are really busy.
I don’t linger, it’s noisy and crowded now and I continue along the sea wall path. The coast is gradually improving now. The concrete blocks seem to have ended and areas of sand are appearing.
Ahead is another Martello tower. This one is better maintained even if the same cannot be said of it’s immediate surroundings, with an abandoned caravan alongside and long grass growing over abandoned areas of concrete.
I’m not at all impressed with this area, but at least the beach is quite nice now.
Now I’m approaching Jaywick. I didn’t really know anything about this place but the state of it prompted me to search out more information when I got home. It seems it has a certain reputation in the area, and not a good one.
Jaywick started out as an area of holiday chalets (and I think some caravans). The vast majority of these holiday parks have planning conditions that mean the site must close for a part of the year (often only a month or two) so that they do not become permanent residences and remain as holiday accommodation. It seems Jaywick had no such clause and what started as holiday accommodation is now mostly permanent houses, but without the infrastructure ever having been provided to support them properly, such as proper roads etc. In some cases people have improved the existing structures, in other demolished and replaced them.
The result is a very run-down place which feels more like a shanty town in places. I believe the houses are cheap and it is a very deprived area. It certainly did not look somewhere to linger.
I headed down to the beach for a while. But progress was difficult as large rock groynes and breakwaters had been built at fairly regular intervals which it was not easy to climb over, so I returned to the road along the coastal edge of Jaywick.
Looking inland it did not look inviting. Many of the roads had rubbish dumped in what passed for the road. Further along many of the houses were boarded up.
As I continued many were burnt out and boarded up. It seems vandalism is a problem too. I was not keen to linger.
I headed back down to the beach again, keen to get away from Jaywick.
It was much nicer down here. The breakwaters did not stretch all the way to the sea wall so I could get along the beach now (and barely see Jaywick). The breakwaters had caused the coast to form all sorts of little bays between each one.
Soon I had left Jaywick, to my relief, and was approaching Clacton, there is only half a mile between the edge of Jaywick and the edge of Clacton. My welcome to Clacton was another Martello Tower.
It was clear this coast has been well fortified over the years.
Soon the large piles of rock that had been used as breakwaters in Jaywick came to an end, replaced with wooden groynes and the coast straightened out and now I could see Clacton Pier ahead, my destination for the day.
The promenade and beach were both quite busy, this being quite a large resort. The beach was nice here too, no more piles of concrete or rocks! Soon I had reached the pier.
It reminded me a little of Brighton, with a fun fair at the end, though it was not such a pretty building as Brighton. The large sign on the front promised “Free Entry” so I decided to take a walk to the end.
Here I could enjoy a fine view along the coast further north. Though there didn’t look to be much beach further north as I could see the sea reached the sea wall ahead.
At the end it was clear the pier also had an important function as the lifeboat station was at the end of the pier, too.
The pier of course contained rides and the usual assortment of amusement arcades and take-aways, and it was proving popular. I stopped for a rest on the sea wall and to have an ice cream. It was nice to have finally reached the open sea again.
I decided to end my walk here as the bus back to St Osyth went from Clacton so I’d have to come back here later if I continued anyway and it was now early evening. It also left most of this area of coast next to the sea to walk next time, it was nice not to rush it. So I headed a little further inland to take the bus from Clacton back to St Osyth. It did not take long and it was nice to be back in peaceful St Osyth, after the noise and bustle of Clacton.
This had certainly been a walk of contrasts! Starting in pretty St Osyth I was soon walking alongside the usual Essex scenery of peaceful salt marsh and creeks to Point Clear. Then a frustrating diversion inland to reach the coast at the odd hamlet of Lee-over-Sands. Although I was now by the sea the villages of Seawick and Jaywick were not at all appealing and I was glad to have passed them. At least the beach was nice and it was good to end at a bustling resort in the shape of Clacton.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-
First Essex bus 74 : Clacton-on-Sea – Coppins Green – St Osyth – Thorrington – Alresford – Wivenhoe – Essex University – Colchester. Hourly Monday – Saturday and once every two hours on Sundays. It takes about 15 minutes between Clacton and St Osyth.