Finally, I have managed to get a walk in! I was beginning to think I would never get started again, especially as the weather made me wonder if it would be sensible to do a coast walk. Certainly, the night before, the wind was howling and making me think that staying snuggly indoors would be the better option. The pictures of the railway line at Dawlish, where I walked back in August, are a shocking reminder of the power of the waves.
However, reassured that Essex is not given to extremes of weather, I set off and met Chris in Maldon. Before going back to our start point we had a quick refreshment stop – see review.
Fully fortified, we drove back to Bradwell Waterside to pick up where Tom and I left off last year. It was tempting as I drove past some very large pools of water on the road to whoosh through and soak a clutch of cyclists, but my better nature took over, and I resisted.
The walk continued pretty much as it has been since Shoeburyness – along the raised sea wall, with the mudflats undulating between the wall and the water. The ground was muddy, but not flooded, other than at one point where a footbridge had been washed away and we made a detour of about a mile (only to discover that if we had turned at one point we could have picked up the path only yards away) and another short piece of path that was completely inundated.
The wind, however, was another thing – howling in from the west it was so strong that a few times I felt it would take me off my feet, and land me on the inner side of the wall in the soaking marshland. Fortunately, it died down to merely blustery at around lunch time and the day was pretty sunny on the whole.
Not as many seabirds about as last time, but we did see the most enormous flock of Brent Geese. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands, all collecting in a single field.
We stopped for a quick pint, which proved a bad move, as Maldon, although visible in the distance never seemed to get any closer as the path wound in and out of the marshes. Eventually, the sun went down. We were charmed by the sight of an owl busy working a field in the dusk. The moon rose early and, being nearly full gave a light bright enough to see our shadows, which was lucky as we had a good 45 minutes of walking in the dark. As we approached the town the mud got claggier and claggier – probably a couple of pounds of extra weight on each foot! By the time we had slipped and slid our way back to the Hythe at Maldon, I was painted in mud up to my hips.
It was splendid to be out again, and we covered just under 18 miles.