Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Essex Coast - Tollesbury to Maldon


The seventh and last stage of a weeks walking along the Essex Coast between Manningtree and Maldon. Due to the limited buses between Tollesbury and Maldon we took the decision to walk this in reverse as we did not want to miss the last bus back to Tollesbury from Maldon at 4:30. Doing this would then give us more time to take in the sights along the Blackwater estuary. Although this was the last section on this occasion we hope to be back to continue from Maldon and onto Purfleet.


Date of Walk:2010-09-10

Start point: Maldon

End Point: Tollesbury

Start Time: 09:30

End time: 16:30

Distance: 14 miles

Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat

Weather conditions: overcast but warm

Path taken: From the Tesco superstore at Maldon, take the bridge over the canal and follow the canal path through to the coast. The path then follows the coast along the sea defences all the way through to Tollesbury. Goldhanger village and pub can be reached via a footpath up from the quay.

Walk difficulty: Easy

On the left, the best pub of the entire walk goes to The Chequers at Goldhanger, on the right is Osea Island
Pubs:
  • The Chequers, Goldhanger: (http://www.thechequersgoldhanger.co.uk/) the best pub visited during the weeks walks. A wide selection of ales and the pub is full of nooks and crannys. The bar ceiling and walls are cover with the beer clips and mats that have guested at the pub and a beer festival was due to start the next day with a selection of ales from small breweries. I had a pint of Kelham Island Pale Rider, a truely great pint. Top marks for this establishment, well recommended.


Walk Features:
  • Osea Island: (http://www.oseaisland.co.uk/) is a 400 acre inhabited island near Heybridge in the estuary of the River Blackwater. A causeway links the the north bank of the river but this is covered at high water as was the case as we passed. 
  • Goldhanger village:  a neat and pleasant village, at the head of a short creek, on the north side of the estuary of the Blackwater, well worth a visit and conveniently about half way along this section.

For some reason Essex landowners appear to be more zealous of their land than elsewhere in the country - on the left, Kat negotiates the precarious telegraph pole bridge across the reed covered borrowdyke, this feat being incurred due to a diversion after the footpath to the sea wall was blocked up by an electric fence, on the right the high tide completely steals some protective landowners private beach

Notes: Walking this section in reverse meant that we could start the day with a cooked breakfast at the Tesco superstore. I have to admit that superstore breakfasts are great value for money and always worth frequenting if you are close. The walk is all coastal along the sea defences so in terms of scenes it is pretty much repetitive. We did attempt to take a diversion by means of a footpath from Goldhanger across the fields as a way of having a bit more variety to the walk. This was fine until we met back with the sea wall at Joyces Farm where we found the 20 yards of land that separated us from the sea wall was cordoned off with electric fences to create what looked like a small paddock for a horse but with no horse in sight. The way the fence hugged its boundaries appeared to make it plain to see that the landowner did not want anyone accessing the sea wall either around or through their property. I am not sure why Essex landowners seem so protective of their land. Looking at the OS map it isn't very clear whether there was or wasn't a footpath here and studying it closer it does look as if this small piece of land does separate the footpaths. Even so, it would be a gentlemanly thing to allow permissive use across a mere 20 yards  or at least erect a sign at the start of the path to the fact that there is no access to the sea wall.

Somewhat disgruntled we trudged back along the footpath and found another track leading down to the sea wall. This wasn't an official footpath and the only way to get across the borrowdyke was a makeshift bridge composed of two telegraph poles wired together with a third length of wire strung between two posts at waist height - this was used to balance and we precariously and very slowly edged across. I am glad to say neither of us ended up in the drink below and it was a sense of achievement to have done it.
Once again, as with our previous days walk, one of the highlights of the day was the extremely high tide. At one point we even thought it may breach the sea wall. It lapped up above the concrete defences and over the gorse bushes, the opposite side was a substantial drop down the slope. This just shows what a precarious situation these low lying lands sit in and if global warming does substantially increase sea levels, these marshes will be no more.

One curious sight as we approached Rolls Farm was a figure lurking by the sea defences, peering over at the encroaching sea. As we neared, this figure took off on a bicycle and it became evident that he was wearing a dressing gown. Very strange considering it was half way through the afternoon. With the constant buzz of a helicopter overhead and a low flying light aircraft it did enter our heads that this may be some escapee from a mental institution! Just one of those strange sights that you see on a walk. It did make is chuckle.

All in all this was a great weeks walking and the Essex Coast is a great place to discover. We do aim to continue this trek onwards from Maldon. One thing worth noting is that Peter Catons excellent book 'Essex Coast' (http://petercatonbooks.co.uk/) is a great companion and details the history and curiosities to be found along the way. Most evenings, I sat in the tent with a glass of wine and the lantern burning re-reading the next days section so that I would be familiar with what to expect.

On the left: Ducks shelter under the canal bridge; on the right: another wreck, this time in Heybridge Basin

Equipment: Day pack

Accommodation: Grange Farm Camp Site, Thorpe-le-Soken - an excellent and recommended site with basic facilities and friendly staff. It is close to the railway station and has a resident owl!

Entrance of the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal into the Blackwater at Heybridge


Transport: Due to the timescales and bus times we decided to do this walk in reverse which meant we did not have to worry about making the final destination and find the bus stop in time for the last bus. Drove to Tollesbury and parked in the village square (free). Took Heddingham Coaches from Tollesbury to Maldon. So refreshing to have this local bus service with its friendliness and helpfulness after so many rides aboard First Group buses.

Route:

View essex coast - Tollesbury to Maldon in a larger map

Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z


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