307. Burnham-on-Crouch to Battlesbridge

I decided I needed to get two more days of walking in, preferably along the Essex coast, to complete my travels for 2019. For the last two days  the weather in the south of England had been particularly wet, but I needed to get my days in before Christmas. Because one of the walking days would be on a Sunday, I would also need to select a route where public transport was available. The most logical solution was to skip ahead and use the railway service between Battlesbridge and Burnham-on-Crouch. Today was the Winter Solstice which meant that at least the daylight hours would begin to increase from this point on. I decided to maximise the amount of daylight availability by driving to and parking in Burnham-on-Crouch and begininng my walk in the very dull light of early morning. It had rained most of the way down on the drive from Shropshire, but the forecast was for a dry-ish day.

I started off on the sea wall, walking westwards along the banks of the River Crouch. It did not take long to realise there would be an awful lot of mud to plough through. I was wearing my trail shoes, gaiters and water-proof trousers which kept most of the mud and water at bay. I was soon walking into a stiff breeze, which together with the mud made for tough going.
I soon reached the small village of Althorne where the lump of Bridgemarsh Island appeared in the River Crouch. Although not really an island it was more a case of disparate salt marsh clumps with two channels of the Crouch running on either side. By the time I reached North Fambridge I had to make a 2.5km detour inland, as there is no footpath along the Crouch for at least another 2km. I followed the road north out of North Fambridge over a farm track and then crossing the railway track for the first time. When I came to the main road, the B1010 there was no way I was going to walk along that. With no verge in many sections and very heavy traffic, even for a Sunday morning, I chose to continue along a quiet lane towards Pantile Wood. Here I joined up with the old disused Maldon to Woodham Ferrers railway branch and now a bridle path. I was only on the bridle path for a short distance before I headed back towards the river estuary, following paths over fields.

Early morning looking back to Burnham-on-Crouch
Don’t have a clue what this is used for? [PS. I later learned from a friend that these contraptions are used for Frisbee Golf – How bizarre!]
Looking up the Crouch estuary
Brent Geese with Ringed Plovers amongst a flock of Dunlins
Heading inland

I crossed over the railway line for the second time at Little Hayes Farm. I then headed back onto the sea wall which carried me towards South Woodham Ferrers. I then entered Marsh Farm Nature Reserve, where I started to meet more dog walkers and the path became very boggy again. The car park was quite busy and sat just opposite the slipway to Hullbridge, just 70m across the Crouch, it would be possible to walk across the river at low tide and with waders on! I did spot some youtube footage of vehicles being driven across it.

South Woodham Ferrers appeared to be a huge mass of modern day homes, bounded by Fenn Creek, an offshoot of the River Crouch, which I still had to cross. I crossed over Fenn Creek at Woodham Farm and then the railway line for the third time. The whole area here was very boggy and very noisy with the adjacent A132 close by.

Is was not long before I had to cross the busy A132 which only took a few minutes of waiting. After passing a few nurseries I picked up the long distance 70+ mile Saffron Trail which runs from Southend-on-Sea to Saffron Walden. This trail led me across fields back towards the A132, which I crossed again and then the railway for the fourth and final time. I entered the small village of Battlesbridge and made my way to the railway station. I had about 35minutes to wait, which gave me plenty of time to clean myself up for the short train journey back to Burnham-on-Crouch. Although, the first bridging point of the river Crouch is at Battlesbridge, I was still some 150m away, but that could wait until my next trip to the area. All that remained was to drive the 26 miles into Southend-on-Sea to my cheap hotel room for the night.

Crossing the railway line the first time
Heading back towards the River Crouch
Back on the sea wall near Little Hayes Farm
Heading towards Woodham Ferrers along the Crouch
Looking across the Crouch to Hullbridge
Now following the banks of Fenn Creek
Crossing over Fenn Creek
Now on the Saffron Trail
Waiting for the train back to Burnham-on-Crouch at Battlesbridge

Distance today =19.5 miles
Total distance = 5,608.5 miles

 

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