I am sitting comfortably up in bed in Rita and Chris’ delightful spare room, after a day which hasn’t been remarkable for scenery, but has been very social. I left home ridiculously early to pick up Chris in Colchester. He and I then returned to Salcott where we finished back in March. After a very short walk across a field, we walked for nearly five miles along the B1025 towards Peldon to take the only road onto Mersea Island, across the Strood. It was not very pleasant, as there was a huge volume of traffic – I have no idea where everyone can have been going, but there were something like 40 cars passing every five minutes: no pavement, so we spent a good deal of time leaping onto hedges. Spring has arrived earlier in east Essex than in Herts – the lilacs are in full bloom and the bluebells richly carpeting the roadside verges. We stopped for a swift coffee at the Peldon rose pub – road walking is fast and we were ahead of time. Eventually, we crossed the bridge (which is impassable at high tide and walked along the north coast of the island towards West Mersea. Along the shore we could see hundreds, if not thousands of dead crabs, caught up in the reeds and seaweed – presumably carried up by a surging wave.
Mersea Island is a community all to itself, the islanders are proud of their traditional fishing, and tales of smuggling abound, particularly the famous (in Mersea, at any event) tale of Mehalah which was written by Sabine Baring-Gould, the author of “Onward Christian Soldiers” and some 1200 plus other works. Apparently, the tale is not for the faint-hearted! http://www.allthingsransome.net/literary/meh_top.htm It is also the setting for the 1930’s detective writer, Margery Allingham’s, first work.
We were planning to meet Rita and two other friends in Mersea and go to the famous Company Shed, a no-nonsense eatery where enormous amounts of fresh fish are served, and you bring your own wine and bread. We got there just before 12 but couldn’t get a table till nearly three, so we canned that plan and ate elsewhere. Rita, Julia and Martin had walked around the north side of the island to join us, accompanied by the delightful Harvey, a gorgeous liver cocker spaniel, who leapt and frolicked with boundless energy. After lunch Chris, Martin, Harvey and I walked along the south side of the island. It is unremarkable, to say the least, the most interesting thing is seeing all of the fresh fish being sold, and the oysters being scrubbed. The beach, along which we walked for several miles, was littered with oyster shells. Chris picked up a few live ones, but decided to throw them back in, as the idea of eating them after a a few hours of being carried around was unappealing. We ploughed our way to Eat Mersea point from which I could see Point Clear, my previous set-off point.
The weather was fine, but the wind was bitterly cold. To combat its power, I put on my exceptionally becoming snood to keep my ears warm and attracted glances of what I believed to be admiring attention, although there were other interpretations!
A straightforward 13.5 miles, with some hard going on the road and beach walking.