Posted by: natsevs | December 3, 2010

Old Hall Creek to Stanford-le-Hope

Something woke me in the night and I couldn’t get back to sleep for ages so when I was woken by the voices of 2 women walking past in the morning I was still quite sleepy. It looked like this was quite a popular walk with dog walkers though so I set about packing up. As I was finishing a guy asked where I was from and what I was doing but in a friendly was rather than a get out of my town kind of way. It was short walk into Tollesbury and once there I found the shop, with a typically disappointing selection of food. I bought a coronation chicken sandwich for breakfast that was warm and not very nice. I got back onto the sea walls but came off onto a path past Goldhanger which then joins the road. The road was quite busy but there was a soon another path to get onto through a caravan site before road again into Haybridge where I was able to get some more palatable food. Through there I came to Maldon and stopped to eat my lunch on a verge before carrying on along the edge of the town past Promenade Park.

At the end of that road I got onto path again through fields this time but a way along realised I had dropped my map along the way. Luckily I found it when I retraced my steps then got back on track once more. The path was good up to the point where a sign said ‘private, no public right of way’ but my map said that was where I needed to go. As usual, I ignored the sign and was able to get to the road but then the footpath carrying on from the other side was missing too. I decided to follow the field edge until one appeared but when that failed I just set off across the field and through hedges until I chanced upon a part of the path that hadn’t been destroyed. Eventually I joined St. Peters way at Mundon, passing an alpaca farm before reaching a very old church and a petrified oak forest. The path took me along to Mayland where I rang family friends Val and Brian to say I would hopefully get to St Lawrence by 5.30pm as they had called earlier to say they would pick me up. My prediction turned out to be very optimistic as the front was blocked off at Mayland so I had to go in then back out again to the sea wall which turned out to be a lot more convoluted than I thought. At 5.15pm I still had miles to go so let Val and Brian know and I ended up meeting them near Steeple Creek before heading back to there house and having a very relaxed evening.

 

My mum had decided to come up to walk for the day as I was now quite close so she was already at Val and Brian’s when I went down for breakfast. We drove to Burnham in 2 cars, left mum’s car there then Brian took us all back to Steeple Creek to start walking. It was only me, mum and Allie walking and we set off back on the sea wall, with the sun out but a freezing wind blowing. At St Lawrence the path was blocked so we came in on the road and followed it all the way to Bradwell with Allie being a pain on her lead (she is the family dog if you haven’t read any previous blogs). The road was surprisingly busy considering it was essentially a dead end but I guess people were off for a Saturday day out. Bradwell was quaint but slightly strange for some reason, possibly helped by the sign advertising ‘Bulls eggs for sale’. We got through to St Peter’s Chapel and met the coast and sea wall paths again. We were on the sea wall all the way to Burnham from there. To start it wasn’t very interesting because it was all fields inland and all marsh on the seaward side and not a lot of variation. The marsh started to turn to open sea though and there were a few incidents of interest.

There is a gate on the sea wall with all sorts of debris and flotsam tied up to it which was also in a book Brian had so it must have been that way for a while. When the sea started to become the crouch estuary, Foulness appeared across the water. A little way along there was a black pick up parked up below the sea wall and as we approached we saw a bloke in full camo gear with some sort of army rifle in his hand and a fag in his mouth. He was looking pretty shifty to be honest and wasn’t exactly the kind of bloke you would want to be running into in the middle of nowhere but then he could have been lovely and the gun could have shot bubbles into the air. We were sure we should be able to see Burnham but it wasn’t turning up and we didn’t really see it until we were in it as it is slightly sunk and hidden by trees. As we came in we passed a yacht club where a group were sipping champagne then we stopped at the pub for a quick pint. There was a fair few people who seemed like they might have been in there all day. We got to the car and drove back to Val and Brians.

There is a ferry from Burnham to Wallasea so the following day I started from where the ferry arrives on Wallasea Island. It is a really strange place and you can’t get around the edge of it to the east so I had to head along the sea wall in to the bridge back onto the mainland. Mum was with me for this bit and we got onto a path through fields once over the bridge which came to the sea wall after a brief period. Mum stopped and heading back from here to go home and I continued onwards. The sea wall went along with Wallasea straight over the water from me before it was replaced by Foulness then I had to head inland on a river into Rochford. I came of the sea wall onto a track then road and got to Rochford where I found a shop and very pleasantly surprised to find welshcakes for sale. There was no option but road walking all the way to Samuels corner but it wasn’t too bad as the sun was out but with a cold wind making for very favourable conditions.

After Samuels Corner there was a path parallel to the coast until I met road again and followed roads to Shoreness where I stopped and had 2 toffee crisps to complete an overdose of chocolate which left me suffering a little. It was all promenades from Shoreness which was a change from sea walls at least. The tide was all the way out and even at 3.45pm the sky was already turning orange so it actually looked quite pretty out in the estuary. It gradually got busier and the sea front became more like a holiday resort as I approached Southend. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Southend though as I liked it, I was assured by Val and Brian that it’s not so nice in the summer when you can’t move for people. I walked by the massive pier and the cliff lifts passing cafés and ice cream stalls. The sky was getting prettier so I was taking a lot of photos as I walked. I met Brian and Val at Chalkwell and we drove on to a pub in Leigh to have a pint and so I could try cockles. We got there just in time and Val bought some cockles from Osborne Brothers before they closed. They were actually ok, all I could taste was the pepper on them really and they’re as good as any other pub snack.

 

Brian drove me back to Chalkwell in the morning and walked with me along to Leigh with Amber, their dog. It wasn’t a very nice rain with misty rain occasionally getting a little heavier. Out of Leigh, I got onto path along the front past 2-Tree Island. I was pleased to find the rain letting off a bit but my radio ran out of battery and I wasn’t carrying spares as I was only walking with a small pack whilst at Val and Brians. There was a tennis ball on the path which provided me with entertainment for about 5 minutes as I kicked it along in front of me though. I was on the path for quite a long time, making my way through the country park to Benfleet where I crossed the bridge onto Canvey Island. There were loads of boats moored up on both sides of the river near the bridge one of which was a clubhouse/pub. Once over the bridge, I was back onto another sea wall alongside a golf course to start my way around the island. The golf course turned to a residential area with a road immediately to my right until I came to a part where the houses were fenced off from the path for some reason. The wall took me round to Canvey sea front where I went down to a promenade on the seaward side of the wall very briefly before coming back onto the top because it was a little depressing down there with just concrete and water as a view. I was hoping I would come across a shop but there was none to be seen at all, just a lot of amusements at one point and nothing at all the rest of the time.

The houses stopped and I was now accompanied by caravans briefly before getting to the oil refinery. The path dipped under a couple of jetties and I was able to get along in front of the oil refinery all the way to the other side where there is a pub and a caravan site. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a holiday but there you go. I carried on with a refinery over the water to my left and Canvey’s own still there on my right, doesn’t quite match up to the mountains and lochs of Scotland. To improve the landscape even further, a landfill site started to loom up in front of me over another river though. There was a way across to that river but it was completely fenced off as usual so I continued on round on my sea wall until I met the sea wall which was a couple of feet above me on a bridge. Luckily for me there were some sort of metal reinforcement things running under the bridge which I was then able to wedge a plank of wood into as well. Standing (slightly precariously) on the wood, I was able to pull myself up onto the bridge and climb over the fence. I’m guessing I might have confused a few car drivers passing boy at that point.

I stayed on the road until it passed over a railway from which point I came down the verge through some overgrown vegetation to get onto a rail side path to Basildon. That path mostly took me through fields keeping to the railway fence the whole way. When I reached Basildon I stayed by the tracks until a bridge took me over the railway and to another path which went through fields. The start of that path was fine but I then got to one which was obviously long abandoned. The bridges over the ditches just about remained but finding my way from one to the next was largely guesswork. I walked through the odd hedge before getting to a track up to Fobbing. From there I followed the road to Stanford le Hope where I met Brian near the train station and he drove me home to have a roast dinner.

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