Day 63: English Coastal Path

D63: MALDON to BRADWELL-ON-SEA

Saturday 26th March 2022

Today miles: 21.3 Total miles: 992.9

It was so, so, so cold last night. It really didn’t come as any surprise when I climbed out of my (summer) sleeping bag this morning and found a thin layer of ice on the outside of the tent. I’d usually get the stove going straight away for a hot coffee and breakfast but I just wanted to get packed up, get walking and try to get warmed up.
Minutes later I passed by what was meant to be the start of the causeway onto Northey Island. I couldn’t see any roadway/path through the mud and just decided it was too risky trying to find a way across the causeway on my own. It was also misty across the mudflats and a bit scary looking in the half moonlight.

My first target for today is Maylandsea, about 5 miles away along the grassy sea wall. After about 3 miles it felt warm enough to stop and I boiled some water for my breakfast. The gas canister lasted just long enough to heat up the water and I’ll need to find another canister otherwise there’ll be no hot coffee or porridge in the morning. On approach to Maylandsea I walked across a short section of St Peters Way and I’d do this several more times today. St Peters Way is a Pilgrimage route of 40 miles from Ongar Castle to the Chapel of St Peter near Bradwell.

Between Lawling Creek, Mayland Creek and along the Southern edge of River Blackwater I noted several vessels in severe poor condition well sunk into the mud. This got me to thinking about why such things are allowed to happen in 2022. There must be literally thousands of these vessels scattered along the British coastline, I know I’ve already passed hundreds and will likely pass by many more. People wander along the coastline picking up items of rubbish in order to protect the environment but these corroding pieces of machinery are left to rot on our coastline for decades. I found it strange how few people seem concerned about this environmental problem.

It was turning into a nice, warm day and I took several short breaks along the sea wall between Mayland and Bradwell. There are several more caravan parks, both large and small along the path and at Steeple Bay Holiday Park a friendly lady filled up both my water bottles. At Bradwell Creek I’m diverted away from the sea wall which appears to have been deliberately breached to create a wildlife reserve. There’s a pub at Bradwell Waterside marina and I planned to grab a nice (alcoholic) drink and some food. I’m fortunate that the girl serving behind the bar takes sympathy on me as it’s now 3.08pm and they officially stopped serving at 3pm. My drink is suitably dispensed but sadly no food. Half an hour later I managed to get a portion of cheesy chips from a food van situated a little further along the coast.

I wasn’t sure how much further I wanted to go today. I passed by Bradwell Nuclear Power Station and two miles later came across the Chapel of St Peter (the start/end of St Peters Way footpath). This Saxon chapel is from the 7th century and I was quite impressed with the building and the views out to sea. I also managed to have a quick look around the inside as it’s open to the public. There’s also a large bothy/pilgrimage hostel nearby, unfortunately that’s all locked up.

A little further down the coast I discover what looks like a bird watchers hut hidden amongst a small copse of trees. Doesn’t look like it’s been used in many years and the patch of flat grass near the entrance door is perfect for tonight. A little later in the night as I’m settling in my tent, a quad bike and rider drove by pretty close. I thought I might be discovered and chased off. Some 15 minutes later the quad drove by again in the opposite direction, fortunately I’m well hidden and remained undiscovered.

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