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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Walk 23 St Lawrence to Maylandsea (Essex)

Walk 23  St Lawrence to Maylandsea (Essex)

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

Map: L/R 168
Distance: about 8 miles
Difficulty: easy, flat
Terrain: roads and paths some of which can be muddy
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Buses D1/D2 go every hour from Maylandsea starting/returning to Maldon. D1 goes to/from St Lawrence to Maylandsea every 2 hours or so. Both Monday to Friday but with cuts in the offing it is wise to check timetables.

The walk starts at the Stone in St Lawrence. This is a pleasant section with some good views across the River Blackwater. The path winds its way around for a mile or so then turns inland down a track by-passing Stansgate Abbey Farm. This is where the famous politician Tony Benn lived and there has been some controversy about access to the coast here being denied to the public. Before turning inland the eastern end of Osea Island can be seen.

This island has an interesting history. It was owned in the early 1900s by a member of the Charrington brewing family who was a leading light in the temperance movement. He had disinherited himself from the family business and opened a retreat on the island for wealthy alcoholics (known as gentleman inebriates) and opiate addicts. During World War 1 the island was taken over by 2000 sailors who were billeted there as part of the Coastal Motor Torpedo Force. It was also occupied by the forces during World War 2.  From 2005 to 2010 the Causeway Retreat was opened as a centre for dealing with addiction. Amy Winehouse, the late singer, was a patient there. However, it was found to be operating without a proper licence and was closed in 2010.

The path continues along Steeple Creek and down Mayland Creek. This inlet seems to go on for a long time before winding around to the opposite bank. The path northwards up the opposite side of Mayland Creek was poorly marked when I walked this section so some educated guesswork needed. The path goes past small lakes and is adjacent to marshland at the top end of Mayland Creek and Lawling Creek. Follow the path around to enjoy a good view of Mundon Creek and the marina.

Maylandsea is popular with fossil hunters. Lobster fragments are most common but sharks teeth and other fish remains have been found. During World War 2 Maylandsea boatyard was home to the secret building of Motor Torpedo Boats and Launches used to hunt enemy submarines.

Snaps show: St Lawrence/Ramsey Island; looking towards Osea Island; two of the walk to Mayland.

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