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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Walk 22 Bradwell on Sea to St Lawrence

Walk 22   Bradwell on Sea to St Lawrence (Essex)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 168
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty: easy, flat
Terrain: roads and paths some of which can be muddy
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Bus D1 goes every couple of hours starting/returning to Maldon. It also goes from Bradwell on Sea to St Lawrence. Check timetables as some journeys involve changes.

Follow the Roman Road eastwards out of Bradwell on Sea. (It was once called Bradwell near the Sea which is probably more accurate as the village is over a mile from the nearest water.) Go past East Hall Farm to St Peter’s Chapel which overlooks the North Sea.

St Peters on the Wall’ (the sea wall) is one of the oldest surviving chapels in England and is built on the site of Othona, a Roman fort. It is a simple barn like construction built in 654 by Bishop Cedd who travelled down from Lindisfarne. It was used by farmers for a while and bits are patched up where wagons entered. A pilgrimage is held here on the first Saturday of every July. I found it to be a picturesque spot on a sunny, calm day.

Continue northwards with the beach of St Peter’s Flat on the right. The path turns into the estuary of the River Blackwater with West Mersea visible on the opposite bank. The now decommissioned Bradwell Nuclear Power Station is a significant landmark at this point. It was built here partly because of easy access and the unlimited supply of cooling water. In 2010 it was one of eight sites identified by the government for a new generation of nuclear power stations. In part of the river opposite the power station is a long concrete structure – I have not been able to find out its purpose.

A mile or so past the power station is Bradwell Waterside. This is a narrow sheltered stretch of water with a marina and many boats. Opposite is Pewet Island where the remains of Saxon fish traps have been found. After passing Bradwell Creek the path goes inland for a little way before getting nearer to the water at St Lawrence Bay.

St Lawrence is a popular spot in the warmer months. There is a large caravan park and several visitors take advantage of the water-sports and sailing facilities. The waterfront village is often called ‘The Stone’ - this is also the name of a local pub.

Snaps show: St Peters on the Wall; Bradwell Waterside; St Peters Flat; the structure opposite Bradwell Power station. 

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