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Friday, 15 April 2011

Walk 29 Kirby-le-Soken to Thorpe-le-Soken

Walk 29   Kirby-le-Soken to Thorpe-le-Soken

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

Map: L/R169
Distance: about 7 miles
Difficulty: easy, flat
Terrain: roads and paths, a few can be muddy
Access: Parking in the road at both villages
Public transport: Mondays to Fridays only, number 8 runs from Clacton to Kirby-le- Soken once an hour, and number 4 runs from Thorpe-le-Soken to Clacton also once an hour. (Always check latest information before going).

A short coastal walk near to Horsey Island. No or little access to the coast after Walton on the Naze until you get to Kirby.

This is a remote quiet walk, a contrast to parts of the previous one through Clacton and Walton. The scenery has its own unique attractiveness. Take the road out of Kirby-le-Soken (a typical English village in many ways) to the north and follow it up to the quay. A house with a wooden gate looks over a rather desolate scene – there was just one large sailing ship moored at the time I went. It does not take much imagination to understand why eighteenth century smugglers were prolific in this area.

The path winds its way along the marshes; Horsey Island can be seen in the middle distance. This is connected to the mainland by a causeway called The Wade but it is only accessible at low tide. The island features in The Secret Water by Arthur Ransome and is called Swallow Island in the book. Further to the north is Peewit Island which becomes Peewitland in the same book.

Keep following the path to the west and across the water is Skipper’s Island. Along with Horsey Island it is now a nature reserve managed by Essex Wildlife Trust but access is only by arrangement with the warden there. This island and Hamford Water also feature in Secret Water, the name is changed to Mastodon Island in the book.

Continue to Beaumont Quay. This is not used any more but the concrete structure is said to have been recycled from the old London Bridge. There are a few old cottages along the bank. One of these was owned by Sir William Gull, physician to Queen Victoria, who was supposed to have cured Prince Albert of typhus. It was also rumoured that he may have been Jack the Ripper!

Follow the roads back into the busy village of Thorpe-le-Soken. William Gull, mentioned above, is buried in the churchyard there. I understand that a 'Soken' was a special area in this part of the country where the original Saxon owners granted rights for the residents to make their own laws providing the church agreed.

Went on a very misty day so no photos.

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