Today was a bit different from yesterday, in that there was more estuary walking again, followed by a walk through the docks at Harwich. I also had company – Tom, Chris and Chris’ friend Alan. Alan is a veteran walker – he has crossed Scotland coast to coast twenty-five (yes, that is twenty-five, not a mis-print) times for charity. He was keen to get a bit of practice in for his next Scottish trip in late May, so was walking with a very large, full rucksack.
Tom & Chris picked me up from Squeaky-clean pub, which sadly had only provided the first “B” in the “B&B” combination. I had managed to find a sandwich in a convenience store, but was feeling somewhat disappointed that no bacon and eggs had materialised. We drove back to Walton-on-the-Naze to meet Alan. As I was gasping for a cuppa before setting out, we stopped at the local Hell’s Angel café for a brew to put hairs on my chest.
Walking through the town, it began to rain, so there was a good deal of waterproof firkling before we could really get into our stride. Naturally, the rain then stopped. Alan’s preparations were a revelation – he had a huge thermos flask of coffee made from Bailey’s Irish Cream – it kept the coffee hot, and put a spring in all our steps!
The path runs inland around the marshes for about 8 or 9 miles. There was the usual bird life to be seen – black-headed gulls, ducks of various sorts and oyster catchers. In the distance we could see the tower at Walton. Because of the presence of a factory which seems to produce explosives or something equally hush-hush, walkers are directed inland. But that was fine, as, in due course, we came to a pub at Little Oakley where we partook of fine roast beef sandwiches – almost made up for a limited breakfast.
We then picked up the Essex Way, which led back to the coast and walked along the prom into Harwich. As we walked we could see the enormous cranes at Folkestone and watched a huge Maersk container ship heading out to sea. Looking at the size of it, and counting the hundreds of containers above the water line, it is almost impossible to imagine how they stay afloat – how come the containers don’t fall off in a heavy sea? I know they are tied in, of course, but it is still difficult to understand how they stay upright. Behind it was a tiny tug. We couldn’t decide whether it was actually pushing the container ship, which seemed unlikely, or if it contained the pilot, who would then be dropped off once the ship had reached the channel: maybe it was just being dragged along in the ship’s wake…..
As we passed round the promontory into Harwich harbour, we passed the treadmill crane, dating from the 17th century. More information on it here http://www.harwich-society.co.uk/old/info_treadwheel.htm
The day ended with some serious debate about distance travelled – my reckoning on the map had given me a target of 17.5 miles, and my pedometer gave me 17.6 – all well and good, and consistent with other days, taking my total to 700.8 miles. Alan’s pedometer, however, maintained that we had done some 21.7 miles in total. If he is correct, then I have done another 15-20% overall. Next time I am walking in an area with mileage on the footpath signs I will check. Alan’s pedometer also shared the information that we made a total ascent of 367 feet, and reached a maximum height above sea-level of 92 feet.