Day 58: English Coastal Path

D58: CLACTON-ON-SEA to BRIGHTLINGSEA

Friday 5th November 2021

Today miles: 17.8 Total miles: 903.0

When I left Clacton-on-Sea this morning the sun was shining and there’s not a single cloud in the sky. The concrete promenade that I followed for several miles yesterday continues all the way through first Jaywick and then Seawick. The first of these communities being regarded as one of the most deprived areas in England. The mostly wooden buildings, of which there are thousands, were originally constructed in the 1930’s as low cost holiday homes but they quickly became (controversially) permanent residence. I could see lots of evidence of this deprivation as I walked along the concrete sea wall. Despite this negative history I thought the location was pretty and I could also see some positive and hopeful signs of improvement.

Not long after Seawick the concrete sea wall turned to grass once more. I stopped for my breakfast just beyond Lee-over-Sands and I got my first sighting of Mersea Island across the waters of Brightlingsea Reach. On finally reaching Point Clear I quickly meandered my way through a nice housing estate before rejoining the coast near the huge ‘Orchards Holiday Village’. On the Southern edge of Point Clear there’s yet another row of pretty beach huts whose doors opened right onto the promenade. I got a nice surprise when I reached the tip of Point Clear and noticed another Martello Tower, this one being well hidden amongst the many other buildings. It’s currently a military museum complete with a full scale WW1 tank guarding the front entrance. A little further along Point Clear Bay beach there’s the giant whelk seashell, it’s over 10ft tall and looked a bit out of place on the otherwise small and insignificant beach.
There’s a Summer ferry which moves between Point Clear and Brightlingsea, but seeing as its now early November (and it breached my rules) that isn’t even an option. I looked at my map quickly and noticed the PH sign indicated on the minor road into St Osyth, which is less then two miles away. I was ready for an extended break and a cold drink so I hurried, almost ran, excitedly towards the pub. Unfortunately the ’White Hart’ public house appears to have been closed for several years and is currently on the verge of becoming part of a new housing estate. I considered just moving on but then I noticed on the opposite side of the road there’s a water sports business with several wooden benches. Here I was finally able to sit down and eat my sandwich.

There’s a short piece of road walking and a further mile of sea defences prior to reaching the Northern outskirts of Brightlingsea. It’s starting to darken and I’ve got about a mile to go until I reach the bus stop in town. After working my way down to Brightlingsea Creek I enter an area of heavy industry. There’s a high wire fence all around and I managed to walk through an open gate (there’s no ’ Keep Out’ sign) and I fully expecting to be stopped and turned around. I hurried through another gate a few minutes later and into Brightlingsea town centre.

I had a little time to spare before catching the bus so I popped into the grocery store for a fizzy drink. As usual in these small towns I’m once again confused as to where the bus actually stops. I walked between the two visible bus stops on opposite sides of the road several times until the bus eventually turned up. I arrived at my hotel well after 7pm and was amazed by how busy the streets were at this late hour, particularly the number of children who are milling around. My confusion was cleared up when I noticed the ‘Guy Fawkes’ sign on the entrance to the hotel car park. Colchester holds its annual firework display in the grounds of Colchester Castle and my hotel is right next to the Castle. Thankfully the decent double glazing blocked out the hour long racket.

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