Day 326: Creeksea to Hullbridge
Distance: 21.72 miles
Ascent: 1142 feet
Weather: Overcast But Dry
Accommodation: Camping The Anchor Pub Beer Garden, Hullbridge
I had slept well in my beautiful room and actually woke up later than expected. Very kindly some lovely spiced porridge was made for my breakfast by my kind host. It was one of those mornings that for some reason finalising packing my bag and actually leaving seemed hard, within a week not having to pack my bag every day is something I am really looking forward to.
The start of the day took me around a couple of houses before the path should drop down onto the sea wall but there were path closed signs but no signs sign saying why or offering diversions so I carried on anyway. After about a mile of walking along the embankment I reached the construction workers, and it was clear I couldn’t follow the embankment through here as the JCB was currently digging a part of it away. There was a sign here with the customary no possible alternative route, the truth is that if they close a public footpath they are meant to show an alternative or provide a diversion unless it is feasibly impossible, but they always just say there is no alternative without even investigating. I studied my maps and within 5 minutes had found a route I thought was possible across the fields, and 10 minutes later having not had to climb any fences or open any gates I was around the issue so quite clearly there was an alternative they could have signposted.
Now back on track I followed the embankment through Althorne and then for another 3 miles to North Fambridge. At North Fambridge there was a creek, Slow Creek, which required a roughly 5 mile diversion around. I followed a path inland under the railway and then up to the B1012. I hadn’t expected this road to be busy and had been proposing to follow it for a mile but very soon it was clear it was dangerous walking this road as it completely ran out of verge and was busy. There was no obvious option but I decided to follow the edge of some farmers fields and fortunately I managed to navigate 4 fields and land on the little track I needed.
This track had something I haven’t seen before a traffic light for pedestrians letting you know whether crossing is safe and once across I was back on my ‘favourite’ embankments and it was not long till I reached South Woodham Ferrers. I was a bit low on food supplies so decided as the only shop was a bit inland I would try and grab a sandwich at a café shown on google maps. It appeared perfect not far of my route but when I arrived it turned out to be a kids petting zoo and the café was a barn filled with a kids soft play area with a little café alongside it. I debated not going in but was hungry so did go in. I have never had so many people look at me so dodgily before, just because I am wearing a backpack in a soft play area doesn’t mean I’m a paedophile. I ate quickly and got out of there as quick as possible as felt a bit awkward.
From South Woodham Ferrers I could literally see the Anchor Pub in Hullbridge where I would be pitching tonight, only 50m or so across the river, but unfortunately I still had 6 miles to go. This part had actually involved quite a lot of planning, firstly following an embankment up Fenn Creek, then being wedged between the A132 and the railway before following a road and paths to Battlesbridge.
Battlesbridge was quite interesting/quirky and I liked it. From a very elaborate duck house, to quaint shops, and a tea room in the loft of an old wharf building. I was now on a foot route called the Saffron Way and this sent me along a road for a kilometer and I presumed this would be safe as it was a named path. But how wrong was I, if this hadn’t been a named path there was no way I would have walked this road, it was narrow, very windy (as in bendy not breezy), had no verge and extremely fast cars. In essence it was very dangerous and by far the most dangerous named path I have been on the entire route over the last 300+ days. Whoever came up with this section is absolutely mad!
I was so glad to turn off the road and onto a path and it was not long till I was into Hullbridge and not long before it got dark. The Anchor Pub in Hullbridge had very kindly allowed me to pitch my tent in their beer garden, and on top of this gave me a complimentary meal and drink which was very kind and very tasty. It was a modern but lovely pub and about 8pm I decided to head back to the tent before it got too cold.
A good day, if a little monotonous on the embankments.