The only way is Essex … walking it’s coastline

Saturday 15th February – Monday 17th February 2020

On Saturday afternoon we drove down to Wivenhoe, on the Essex coast to take up our week’s house-sitting assignment, looking after a young Maine Coon cat named Charlie. This is a part of the country we have no previous experience of … and of course we’re taking the opportunity to walk along the nearby coastal paths, to add to our ongoing collection.

Charlie is only one year old and already has legs about a foot long. He’s going to grow into a big boy as Main Coon cats continue growing until they are about 4 years old.

So, our previous assignment was looking after a huge Bernese Mountain Dog and now it’s a Maine Coon cat – oversized pet sitting could perhaps become our speciality!

Our drive down on Saturday was pretty eventful with Storm Dennis brewing nicely … wind and rain a’plenty. On Sunday it was even worse with the storm in full flight. And so we made the sensible decision to abandon our walking plans for the day and stay put in the safety of our ‘borrowed’ house. We just nipped out in the morning to stock up on the ingredient essentials for a Sunday roast, some decent teabags and the newspapers. Strangely enough there was an England v South Africa T20 cricket match on from lunchtime (might have aided the decision). I indulged in a few hours of snuggly sofa time wading through the Sunday newspaper, supplements, magazines and all … bliss.

Monday 17th February

No excuses today – the storm has passed! Walking boots on and layered up to keep warm, we set off from the house around 10ish. We wandered down through the pretty town of Wivenhoe to the Quayside. There’s a mixture of old and new houses here but it blends perfectly to make a very attractive and interesting place. The quayside, on the banks of the River Colne, was our starting point to walk to the seaside town of Brightlingsea. This meant one of those annoying estuary walks which involves walking miles along one side of the river, crossing over and walking back miles along the other side … distinct lack of bridges and ferries!

Wivenhoe Quayside
Starting off on today’s walk from Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea

The first part of today’s hike was along a sea defence wall – lovely views and quite pleasant underfoot. “We’ll be alright if we stay up this high” says Steve, “shouldn’t be too muddy.”

Of course that didn’t last. The path led us through some pretty woodland area and at first we relished getting away from the wind … it was a beautiful day but still Dennis’ wind was lingering. It was like walking through trip hazard alley though, with the heavily exposed tree roots consuming the path – had to watch our every step. Then the inevitable puddles kicked in and it got muddier and muddier. It was safer just walking through the murky puddles rather than risk slipping in off the muddy sides. The trouble was you just couldn’t gauge how deep they were … ‘Dr. Foster went to Gloucester’ sprang to mind! All good fun.

Sign of a good walk!

In planning the walk, Steve had discovered that you could cross the estuary at low tide (which it was) at a certain part. When we got to that spot it certainly didn’t look very crossable … we took a good look and Steve even attempted one step from the bank … finding himself knee deep in soft mud swiftly indicated that this was not the way forward!

We continued along the path until we found a proper bridge to take us across to the other side, safely. There was a pretty mill house located here as well as a couple of other stylish houses. After that we were diverted inland for a while, which involved walking roadside for a short time until we reached the beautiful church of All Saints on the outskirts of Brightlingsea.

How to cross the river safely
All Saints Church, Brightlingsea

At this point we could see that we could walk into the town of Brightlingsea by continuing along this road. “But it’s not the coastal path.” “But, who would know?” “It’s only yourself you’re cheating!” At times this coastal walking is testing!

We headed down a country lane, passed some quarries and then found a path leading us into more woodland. More boggy woodland!

We’re presuming Storm Dennis had struck this tree yesterday

Eventually found our way back onto the Sea Defence wall, walking back along the river, the other side. And this time, there was a strong oncoming wind to battle against. Have to admit, this stretch seemed eternal at times. And so into the town of Brightlingsea. Our first introduction was it’s promenade … and today it’s prettiness was marred by the devastation of yesterday’s storm. Something we’d never seen before – numerous beach huts had literally been blown off their bases, some had travelled quite far away too (wouldn’t have wanted to have been walking around there yesterday).

Storm Dennis’ devastation

So, there it was – just over 8 miles and today’s walk was done. We had lunch in a local cafe and got the bus back to Wivenhoe … all very straightforward and we’d had a fabulous day out.

Seems like our children are always with us ❤️
And who’s the black sheep of the family … !?
So lovely to be back in the country

We haven’t spotted any orange botoxed Essex celebrities yet – guess you wouldn’t come across them on the coastal path. We’re off to the local in a bit … who knows? 🤣