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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Essex Coast - Great Oakley to Walton-on-the-Naze

Stormy seas at Walton-on-the-Naze

The second stage of a weeks walking along the Essex Coast between Manningtree and Maldon. This would take us along the edge of the marshes in front of Horsey Island and the Naze. You don't really see the sea here and it is much like walking the North Norfolk marshes, following the sea defences which at times makes you feel as if you are not making much progress as they meander through the marsh. Having said this, there is plenty to sea, wrecked boats, Skipper Island, Horsey Island, precarious makeshift bridges out onto the marshes and of course the wildlife and fauna.

Date of Walk:2010-09-06

Start point: Great Oakley

End Point: Great Oakley

Start Time: 10:00

End time: 15:30

Distance: 10 miles

Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat

Weather conditions: Windy day with the persistent breezes against us most of the time which made it hard going - consequently we only covered 10 miles.

Path taken: Followed footpaths down to Beaumont Quay where we were able to follow the sea defences through to Kirby Quay. Luckily a local chap was walking in our direction across the fields and helped us navigate the initial stage which was ill defined as it was currently being ploughed. There is no official path on the defences beyond Kirby and it was obvious that work was being done on this section from the crane and JCB that was working just beyond the quay. With this in mind and the fact that according to Peter Catons book 'Essex Walk' there are difficulties in negotiating this part of the path we decided the best option would be to walk into Kirby-le-Soken then follow the road into Walton-on-the-Naze.

Walk difficulty: At times it was a struggle against the wind, coupled with a rather rough surface along the sea defence, the result of recent works being carried out.

  • The Ship Inn, Kirby-le-Soken:  village local with some friendly old characters at the bar when we arrived.
  • The Walton Tavern, Walton-on-the-Naze: This place looks like it booms on the tourist trade with the front position on the seafront.Cant argue with the beer - Sharps Doom Bar which is an excellent brew. Pictures of old Walton are across the walls which provide a point of interest.
The wreck of The Rose at Beaumont Quay

Walk Features:
  • Beaumont Quay: here lies the wreck of The Rose, a 42 ton barge which was launched in 1880. It worked a coastal route for 50 years before becoming a lighter (a towed barge with no independent means of propulsion). It was sold in the 1960s but never restored and is now decaying in the mud at Beaumont Quay.
  • Kirby Quay: The modern "Quay House" was actually a Granary until about 1920 and stood alone next to the quay where the barges tied up, grain and coal were regularly transported by barge until the middle of the 19th Century when the railway took over.

Notes: As I mentioned earlier, this was a blustery day and it was pretty hard going, but it was good to arrive in Walton. The town was deserted with it being the first week with schools back. The majority of pier attractions had closed, not that this is my way of enjoyment.

On the left, neglected boats sit in Landmere Quay. On the right, a Thames sailing barge at Kirby Quay

Equipment: Day pack

Accommodation: Grange Farm Camp Site, Thorpe-le-Soken - an excellent and recommended site with basic facilities and friendly staff. It is close to the railway station and has a resident owl!

Transport: First group service 3/4 from Thorpe-le-Soken to Great Oakley. Return by train from Walton. The station is yet another faceless place these days, devoid of all railway persons. The ticket machine was even worse than the one at Thorpe-le-Soken, this one told you to pay for a ticket to travel but gave you absolutely no advice on how much to pay. My dislike of National Express grew more! I found a station phone that had a button titled 'Help'  that rested on one of the roof pillars - I picked it up and was transferred to what sounded like an Indian Call Centre where I had to explain the ticket I needed in order to estimate the fare. When on the train the ticket collector then comes along and you have to pay for a proper ticket. A few seconds later and he would have missed us and we were the first customers he encountered whilst walking down the train. Maybe we should have bought a ticket for 10p and sat elsewhere in the train! It is a good job we are honest citizens but I am sure National Express lose many fares. Having to travel on trains regularly for work I know what a lousy service National Express offer and this only heightens the fact. I have nothing against the hard working staff but this company could not manage a piss up in a brewery even if the beer was free and there were written instructions!


View essex coast - oakley to walton in a larger map

Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z


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