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Category: Essex

What’s the rush?

What’s the rush?

Well, I'm glad you asked me that because I can now tell you. It's the Greater Woodrush. smilies

Scrappy looking flower head init? That is not a good photograph. What it really needed was for the flower head to be sunlit but the background to be in deep shade. That would have shown it up nicely but not something I could arrange. smilies It is a woodland plant, often an indicator of ancient woodland, and not common in Essex. So  where was it?

That's in Danbury near Chelmsford. Have you noticed the white flowers beyond the sign? There were a lot more of them.

They are Wood Anemones so that must be good mustn't it? Well no it wasn't. We had gone to Blakes Wood to look at the Bluebells but because of our recent dreadful cold weather, lasting well into Spring, all the plants, including trees, are well behind. Wood Anemones should be over by now but they appear to be at about their best and Bluebells should be in their prime but all we could see were some leaves. Looks as though we'll have to back in a couple of weeks. On this visit, however, we did hear a Nightingale as soon as we stepped out of the car. That was nice!

That is not to say that there weren't some picturesque views to be had.


Those trees in the last picture should be showing an obvious green haze formed by the appearance of new leaves but there's nothing.

Spring is late this year. smilies

 

Second time lucky.

Second time lucky.

Tuesday: Weather forecast for Saturday is sunny all day.

Wednesday: Weather forecast for Saturday is sunny all day.

Thursday: Weather forecast for Saturday is sunny all day.

Friday: Weather forecast for Saturday is sunny spells (Oh! Oh!)  :unhappy:

Saturday: I plan to walk from Tollesbury to Salcott along the shorter route, 4.5 miles instead of 8.5 miles. Weather forecast now says sunny spells with showers. I decide to chance it.

Leaving the house under a mostly cloudy sky, although there are a few small blue patches, I walk across the fields towards the bus stop and experience a light shower on the way. There was ice on our rooflights this morning and the wind is definitely icy. I begin to wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

The bus is on time and I'm on my way to Tollesbury in the warm and dry (Make the most of it while you can). It's only a ten minute journey and I get out in The Square and set off down the road towards the waterside and the start of the path.

When I reach the path I start the GPS on my phone so that it will produce a track of my route and then set off along the sea wall. A shower starts after I take my first step. Is somebody trying to tell me something? I do see a rainbow over Mersea Island so there must be some sun somewhere although not here. The tops of my trousers are wet through but I hope that when (if) the rain stops the strong wind will dry them out.

The rain stops for about three minutes, giving my trousers the chance to get at least partly dry, then starts again. This time it's heavier and it's being blown into my face by the strong wind and I don't see any breaks in the cloud to indicate that it may stop again. It doesn't. :bawl:

By the time I get to Old Hall Farm, around two miles, my trousers are soaked through and I can feel cold water running down my lower legs and into my boots. Lovely!  :yuck: I decide that discretion is the better part of valour and find a slightly sheltered spot to telephone Amanda to come down Old Hall Road and pick me up. I start off along the road to meet her part way and am glad to get into the car when it appears.

I didn't take my camera which is just as well as I wouldn't risk taking it out of its bag in this weather. Had I been given a hint of what the weather might have been like I could have taken waterproofs but there was no hint.

Today (Tuesday): The forecast for today is cloudy this morning and mostly sunny this afternoon. The cloud starts to break up earlier than predicted and I set off again to the bus stop this time in the sun with a light breeze. The bus gets me to Tollesbury at fifteen minutes to one. I walk down to the start of the footpath again but divert into The Loft Tearooms for lunch and after some yummy Roasted Sweet Squash soup and some really nice brown bread I feel fortified enough for the walk. :cool:

This time there was no rain, plenty of sun and a light breeze. Still quite chilly but very pleasant. At one point I saw a small flock of geese go overhead and head away from me but then they turned and came back towards me and I thought 'why on earth are they doing that?'. It was at that point I realised that there was a large flock of geese on the ground between me and the flying geese who then landed among the flock on the ground. So why would they go over the ground flock first and then turn and come back? It was probably that they wanted to land into the wind. Very sensible.

Further on I saw a solitary swan but because I was looking into the sun I couldn't see it very well but thought that the head shape was wrong for the Mute Swan so it probably was a Bewick Swan or Whooper Swan which over-winter in this country.

It took me about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Salcott where Amanda was waiting to pick me up. The distance according to my smartphone GPS was 4.55 miles. I should add to that the 0.65 miles from our house to the bus stop and the 0.69 miles from The Square in Tollesbury down to the footpath. So that's a total of 5.79 miles if my mental arithmetic is up to it.

A nice walk. :mrgreen:
 

Under an Essex sky

Under an Essex sky

Today, Thursday, is the BIG one. I plan to do an eight mile walk from Tollesbury to Salcott-cum-Virley along the edge, and through, some of the Essex salt marsh.

It wasn't practical for me to drive to Tollesbury as I wasn't reurning there so I planned to go by bus but Amanda immediately volunteered to drive me to Tollesbury. So was it her altruistic nature showing through? Well, no it wasn't, it was because I was planning to have lunch, when I got to Tollesbury, in a little tea room that we discovered recently and which neither of us had tried and she certainly wasn't going to be left out of that.

So we parked the car and headed down towards Tollesbury Waterside. This tea room is called 'The Loft' because it is in one of the old sail lofts which I have mentioned before.

We arrived at around 12:30 to find plenty of vacant tables, chose one and settled ourselves down and you can see Amanda avidly studying the menu. We didn't have long to wait for our order to be taken and my coffee and Amanda's tea arrived very soon after. It wasn't very long after that that our lunches arrived so the service was certainly good. I was having Mediterranean vegetable soup which turned out to be very tasty and the bread, from the local bakers, was excellent. Amanda had a free range chicken, homemade sausage meat stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich which she thoroughly enjoyed. The food served here is all local produce and they also have some very tempting cakes which, I believe, are also homemade. Although it was quiet when we arrived by the time we left it was very busy. An obviously popular place.

Having sampled the fare I was very tempted to suggest that we spend the afternoon sitting here drinking coffee and eating cake but decided that it wouldn't make a particularly interesting blog post. So it was time for Amanda to go back home and for me to start my walk the beginning of which was virtually next to the tea room.

My route, produced on my GPS as I walked, is shown on this map with the start at the bottom.

There are waypoints marked at 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours into the walk with the final waypoint at the end.

This is the start of my journey into the unknown (I haven't done this before) so up onto the sea wall and out into the wilderness. This next view is only a few hundred yards, if that, from the start of the path shown above with the salt marsh stretching off into the distance past the houseboat.

It wasn't long after I started that I saw a Little Egret standing in the marsh and I was hoping to get a photograph with the telephoto when I was near enough but it flew off long before that.

I suppose it would have been about 30 minutes into the walk when I took this next photograph.

The habitation on the horizon is West Mersea on Mersea Island on the other side of Salcott Channel. By the time I get to waypoint 'B' I shall be a lot nearer but that won't be for some time yet.

Not long after taking the above photograph I turned round and looked the other way. This picture was taken at that point with the sun and Tollesbury just out of the picture to the right. I'm probably looking towards Shinglehead Point (see map).

After about 40 minutes I reach Old Hall Farm which, as you can see on the map, is at the end of a little lane which comes in to the marshes and stops at the farm.

A little further on at the 1 hour mark I saw this next view looking across the marsh to Tollesbury. A little to the left of centre, on the horizon, is the Tollesbury Lightship and you can just about see the tower on the lightship sticking up above the horizon in the larger picture. It looks a long way away now.

Not long past the last view I reach a junction where I have to decide to branch left and take a shorter route or carry on round the edge the long way with no chance of changing my mind. I ask myself 'Are you a man or a wimp?' and my legs quickly answer 'A wimp, a wimp' but I decide to ignore them and go the long way anyway. I may regret that later and my legs certainly will.

Further along the wall I found that I had to wade through a lot of Norfolk Reed. It's certainly unusual to find it on the top of the wall as it normally grows on the edge of water. You can see the wall curving gently to the left with the River Blackwater on the outer edge of the marsh to the right.

Occasionally I hear the cry of a Curlew but don't actually see any. I am now heading along the sea wall on the northern edge of North Channel which runs between me and Great Cob Island. If I turn and look inland I'm looking across Old Hall Marshes towards Peldon (off the top of the map). The water in the foreground will be fresh water because it's on the inside of the sea wall.

A little further on I met this group of local ladies having a chat on the wall.

They didn't seem particularly pleased to see me and went off in a huff. I think that they were envious of the fact that I could navigate the stile and they couldn't. The buildings visible beyond are part of West Mersea on Mersea Island and are a lot nearer now than when I mentioned them earlier.

It was pretty breezy out here and there were a number of sailing vessels on the water including these small sailing boats which appeared to be in a race of some sort.

I then come across a small shell bank (bottom right of next picture) with Mersea Island in the distance. You may be able to see that the sea wall runs straight ahead towards Mersea and then turns abruptly left. That turn should be around my 2 hour mark. You can also see that parts of the marsh are now almost submerged as the tide is coming in.

I finally reach my two hour point, waypoint 'B', and I'm as near to Mersea as I'm going to get. Doesn't look very far away does it? The sun seems to have taken a break though.

Looking inland over Old Hall Marshes, at this same point, I can see Pennyhole Fleet.

Pennyhole Fleet is the area of fresh water in the foreground. A 'fleet' is an old channel that has since been blocked at both ends. Whilst I'm looking at this view I hear a lot of distant honking and then seen a flock of geese flying in from the right and they curve round towards me and land on the far side of the marsh. They are too far to see once they've landed but they are probably Brent Geese coming from more northern climes to overwinter in this country.

A little later I took this photograph, again of Old Hall Marshes, because I rather liked the look of the back lighting when looking directly into the sun.

Surely I must be getting near the end by this point? Well the bad news is that I still have an hour to go and I am beginning to get tired. My legs are trying to mutiny but I'm in charge and they do as they're told. So there!

I'm now at Quince's Corner, just short of the three hour 'C' waypoint.

Quince's Corner is a small bay in Salcott Channel. You can probably see the curved shape in the picture with Mersea over to the far left and the path I've been following along the top of the wall and it can't be far to the three hour mark surely? Well no it isn't far and I reach it shortly after (waypoint 'C'). I pause to telephone Amanda to get her to come to Salcott to pick me up and then continue towards salcott. A little after this I hear a Curlew and see it land on the opposite edge of the channel.

Those buildings in the trees on the horizon must be Salcott. I wish they didn't look quite so far away.

I finally get to the point where I have to leave the wall and cross a field to get into Salcott and there, at the end, is Amanda waiting for me at the end of the lane (waypoint 'D').

That turned out to be 8.5 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes. Whew!  :cool:

It was, however, a lovely day to be out on the marshes although a lighter breeze would have been a bonus and I suppose I'll do it again – sometime. :mrgreen:

 

And now for something slightly different.

And now for something slightly different.

Another sunny day today. I don't mean by that that it was sunny yesterday (it wasn't), oh no, I mean another sunny day this year. Whenever we have a sunny day we try to make use of it so it meant another walk around Tollesbury. Although this is the same walk I did last time it was with a nearly high tide which made things look a bit different.

We did see a couple of Little Egrets and four Marsh Harriers this time and heard, but didn't see, the inevitable Curlew. The Curlew's call is so atmospheric on the marshes.

I did warn you that I'd be doing this walk again and again. :cool:
 

And now for something completely the same.

And now for something completely the same.

I've done it again!

The Tollesbury Walk, that is. Amanda and I did it nearly two weeks ago you may remember and I did it on my own again today. Amanda was too busy building bonfires in the garden so off I went.

This time I took my Android device with the GPS running to trace my route.

The GPS tells me that the distance was 5.2 miles and it took me 1 hour and 52 minutes. That's an average speed of 2.88 MPH and that includes stopping for 5 minutes to talk to an old chap out with his dog and the occasional stop to check my progress on the GPS.

The sky was grey and cloudy but only thin cloud and there was a watery sun for most of the way which was strong enough to cast a weak shadow.

I didn't even take my camera out of its bag so if you want pictures look at the last trip. :grin:

A very pleasant walk which I shall be doing again for the exercise and also to be able to bore you with all the sordid details.

 

1,2,3,4,5 – Right, that’s enough!

1,2,3,4,5 – Right, that’s enough!

We haven't been out and about this year anywhere near as much as we normally do thanks to the dreadful weather we've had this summer and I've noticed that on our recent trips I'm not as fit as I'd expect to be at this time of the year. :unhappy:
So there's nothing for it but take some exercise. Excercise? Oh no! :bawl:

Oh yes. So this morning I decided to do a 5 mile walk and Amanda even decided to join me. We drove to Tollesbury, parked the car and started on our walk around Tollesbury Wick. Wick is an old english word, sometimes spelled 'wyck', which means 'marsh'. From the centre of the village we walked across the fields to the edge of the River Blackwater at Mill Creek but  there's no mill there now even if there ever was one.

We started off along the top of the river wall with the river on our right and the wick (marsh) on our left. The tide was low so I was able to get this view with the sunlight reflected on the wet mud.

There were quite a lot of sailing boats about including, in the distance, a couple of Thames Barges under sail. They are easy to recognise because their masts tower above the other, smaller, boats.

After a few miles we reached Shinglehead Point which we have visited before. By this time we could see the red lightship at Tollesbury in the distance but we had some way to go before we reached that. However it didn't take us long before the lightship was only a short distance from us moored out in the creek.

When we passed Tollesbury Marina we noticed a lot of White Poplar trees simply because of the way the underside of their leaves show up against the blue sky. You can see why they are called White Poplar.

From there we go past the old sail lofts and back to our car.

A five mile exercise walk in about two and a half hours which is an average speed, over rough ground, of 2 miles an hour. A reasonable speed – not good, but reasonable.

I'm going to have to do that again – and again – and again. :roll:
 

A March march

A March march

On the 20th December last I posted about a short walk I did entitled 'So, was it muddy' and mentioned an Iron Age structure called 'The Rampart' that I passed. I didn't have time to take pictures of it on that walk as I was in a hurry to get back before lunch and, of course, Marie wanted to see a picture.

So I decided to march the same route again today in March. The Meteorological Office weather forecast for this morning was cloudy so I walked out of the house under sun and blue sky. They haven't a hope of getting it right in this country.

I set off across two fields and just before entering a wood I stopped to take a photograph of my boots at the same point that I did last time as a comparison. Now let's be honest – you do like seeing pictures of my boots don't you?

Mud? What mud? Then onwards into the wood.

Out of the wood, through the farm and up the lane. Walking along the lane I was accompanied by the song of a Skylark way above me in the sky somewhere the notes drifting gently to earth like a musical waterfall. Wonderful!

Marie has been on this part of the walk with us when we took her to Layer Marney Tower one year. This time I bypassed Layer Marney Tower and went off along the lane in the opposite direction. Back onto the footpath across the fields in the dull cloudy weather that the Meteorological Office had forecast and near the centre of the picture you may notice a clump of trees on the other side of the field. That's where the Rampart is hiding.

Having crossed the field and reached the Iron Age Rampart you can see that it comprises a very large ditch with a bank on each side. That must have taken some digging by hand and with primitive tools. I took these photographs especially for Marie, the first standing on the bottom of the ditch and the second standing on top of one of the banks. The things I do for some people


 

A few thousand years ago, when it was built, it would have been devoid of trees and probably much deeper than it is now.

So it was now just a matter of continuing my circular route back home.

Just in case you wonder why Amanda wasn't with me, she fell over in the garden about a week ago and wrenched her knee and although it is getting better she didn't want to risk it.