D60: COLCHESTER to MERSEA ISLAND
Sunday 7th November 2021
Today miles: 24.5 Total miles: 938.8
It was as expected a cold night and I was up and about before 5am and walking before 6.30am. For the second day running I parked up near the Tesco Superstore in Southern Colchester. My plan is to walk towards Mersea Island, then walk around the Island before picking up the bus to take me back to Colchester.
Having left Hythe it should have been an easy walk along the Western side of the River Colne towards Rowhedge. Unfortunately a large chunk of the public footpath adjcent to the industrial estate disappeared into the river last year and the path is now closed and fenced off, for health and safety reasons. Instead of the footpath I stuck to some minor roads for the next two miles into Rowhedge. Everybody must be enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, as the streets are deserted and the annual sailing Regetta doesn’t start until much later.
Next I passed through Fingringhoe and ‘The Whalebone Hotel’ where I ate my evening meal yesterday. I then headed towards the fringes of the Fingringhoe Firing Range. After crossing the range I took to a public footpath heading towards Langenhoe and it was seriously overgrown. A little way down the track a man in a brightly coloured tabard called out to me and then quickly informed me that the track was no longer used. We had a brief conversation and apparently the path has been legally diverted. A little further down the road is the new right of way. It was soon located and unusually very well signposted. I then managed to pick up another sea wall and avoided a mile of road walking towards the Strood. When I reached the road at the start of the causeway I stopped to check the tide times Apparently today the sea level is going to raise by 5.9ft which is exceptionally high and means the causeway will be impassable until about 4pm. This means I’ve got about 6 hours to walk the 12 or so miles around Mersea Island. The formal footpath around the edge of the Island is ridiculously overgrown and I gave up on it after about 100 metres. I decided to move slightly inland to hop across the marsh instead. If I’m completely honest I found the views around the Northern edge of Mersea Island to be rather boring and repetative. Things began to improve as I approached Cudmore Grove Country Park and it’s busy with people around the visitors centre.
Things got a bit technical over the next three miles between East and West Mersea. Several times I was diverted away from the coast and forced to walk further inland. There’s also a huge breach of around 500mts in the sea wall near Rewsalls Farm and the surrounding area is completely flooded. Eventually I was able to get back onto the coastal path as I reached West Mersea, so decided to stop for an extended break. I’ve got plenty of time left today so I sat for more than an hour at ‘The Sandbank’ pub and restaurant and enjoyed a cold beer. I’ve got about another three miles to reach the causeway and I’m hoping when I get there the tide will be low enough for me to cross. The beach at West Mersea is pretty and as I walk along I can already see that the tide is going out. The sea wall along Strood Channel is well manicured and easy walking. When I finally get a view over towards the causeway I can see vehicles already moving off the Island. I can also see the blue lights of a stationery police vehicle and that’s never a good sign. On arrival at the Strood I can see that a vehicle has broken down and it’s causing traffic chaos in both directions, the police were doing their best to keep the traffic moving.
I walked up the Strood and arrived at the Peldon Rose Inn with plenty of time to eat. It’s more then a mile from the Strood and the traffic is jammed up beyond the pub. I’m assuming it’s because of this congestion that the first bus failed to turn up and the trip back to Colchester was a painful one, which took me more then four hours. This was an annoying end to what was otherwise a long and enjoyable day.