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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Walk 25 Goldhanger to Tollesbury (Essex)

Walk 25  Goldhanger to Tollesbury (Essex)

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

Map: L/R 168
Distance: about 11 miles
Difficulty: easy, flat - a little hilly at the end
Terrain: roads and paths some of which can be muddy
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Goldhanger to Tollesbury buses now seem to go just on Saturdays - four journeys each way every 2 hours.

This is a peaceful walk with good views across the River Blackwater (although I went on a sunny day which helps).

Rejoin the walk at Goldhanger where the northern side of Osea Island can be seen. Follow the coast path around for about a mile or so to Joyce’s Marsh. This area has been the subject of considerable successful conservation work. The Blackwater Wildflowers Association has restored and improved the marsh so that it benefits wintering wildfowl, waders and other wildlife. Ancient Red Hills, relics of the Roman salt industry, have been preserved.

About a mile further on is Gore Saltings which was once an area where salt was extracted for the trade in Maldon. Further along, just past Mill Creek, was the site of the Kelvedon to Tollesbury Light Railway (marked on the OS map) which for 20 years of its life was extended to a pier near here. It was used for troops to access the river in World War 1 but was not functioning after 1921. The rest of the line went in the Beeching cuts of 1961. Tollesbury Pier was blown up in 1940 as protection against possible invasion.

Just before the path turns northwards at Shinglehead Point the Bradwell Power Station dominates the view of the opposite bank. Inland are Tollesbury Wick Marshes an area of special scientific interest because of the plants and birds. Progressing up this path West Mersea can be seen in the east.

The path works its way westwards to Tollesbury Marina. Sailing and fishing have always been popular here. Over 100 fishing smacks used to operate out of here and sail up Woodrolfe Creek to the sea. The catch has included sprats, scallops, crabs and oysters. At one time starfish were also caught and used for manure.

The Square in the village has some interesting old buildings including an old ‘lock up’.

Snaps show: Old Tollesbury Pier site; Joyce's Marsh; Tollesbury centre; Tollesbury marina; Shinglehead Point.

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