Day 318: Bradfield to Kirby-le-Soken

Distance: 23.96 miles

Ascent: 887 feet

Weather: Overcast

Accommodation: The Penfold’s House (kindly Offered)


I had slept well and felt a significant amount better this morning, so the short day yesterday had definitely been the right call. The only small issue being that today was about 4/5 miles longer now because of it. I was made a lovely breakfast by Dina before heading of just before 8.

The Essex Way pretty much started from the corner of the garden of the house I had stayed in and headed across the farmers fields, under the bridge before reaching the edge of the Stour. It was an overcast, slightly misty morning and the path diverted inland a little up to the village which had a quaint little church, before dropping back down to the coast at the other end of the village.

On the way back to the coast, I suddenly saw an incredibly bizarre house about 1km to my right, which I immediately recognised as the one the artist Grayson Perry had designed and on googling found its name to he ‘A House for Essex’. I have no clue how it got planning permission, but I think it is great creating a striking image over the countryside. Unfortunately, I waited till I was nearer for a photo and it was obscured mostly by trees by that point.

The path was beautiful along the coast and through the woods here and at the edge of Copperas Wood it headed inland again. I got an email at this point that wound me right up, and kept me on edge for a few hours and I just had to calm myself down. Fortunately the walking meant I had something else to think about and after joining the quite busy road for a kilometer or so I turned of down Ray Lane through a farm and rejoined a footpath on the other side. I headed around the back of a refinery before hitting the outskirts of Harwich near the international port.

Getting through (more into) Harwich proved a little more difficult than I had thought, at a roundabout by the massive Morrison’s I had proposed to follow the flyover into Harwich the most direct and coastal road which I presumed would have a pavement but it didn’t so I had to find an alternative. Fortunately I found a cycle route which headed down a back street which vaguely followed the road to the train station. From here it was a loop of Harwich peninsula passing its various marine features including piers, wharfs and a fairly impressive breakwater. The email must have really wound me up cause looking through my photos there are none from the edge of Colleras Wood though till almost leaving Harwich 6 miles later when I must have calmed down.

In fact the first photos taken after this point were of two spectacular Leading Light navigational aids, which were beautiful, though the slightly hazy conditions made it hard to focus the camera. From Harwich after leaving the promenade it was up onto the sea wall for about 3 miles. Then due to a munitions factory on Bramble Island I had to divert inland up to the road. This turned out to be a very narrow busy road and so even though this first part was only a kilometer long till I turned off it was not particularly pleasant. I joined a footpath which sort of bypassed Great Oakley, before rejoining the same road for another kilometer.

A path took me down to the river which I was finally crossing, and I could see Beaumont Quay which was made out of old London Bridge stones, and nearby was an impressive decaying hull which must have been quite some boat. I was on the river flood embankment and would be following its wiggly line all the way to Kirby-le-Soken. Indeed it was very wiggly and I was actually getting quite tired by this stage and I was only just going to beat the darkness. About a mile short of Kirby-le-Soken a cyclist was coming towards me and it turned out to be Charlie who was kindly going to be putting me up tonight and was checking where I was. After a brief chat he cycled back to get the kettle on.

Eventually about 4:30 and literally on the cusp of darkness (not that the photo below makes it look dark) I reached Kirby-le-Soken. Even in the low light it was clear to tell that Quay Lane that I was on was very quaint with beautiful houses. I reached Charlie and Monica’s (who are friends of a school friends parents) house who gave me a very warm welcome and after a good wash they made me a lovely dinner.

I must admit I was pretty tired today, maybe a bit due to the mileage but maybe also the last cusps of the illness. My little laptop has been steadily dying for a while now, getting slower and having the black screen of death more frequently but this evening it felt like it was fully gone but will give it a final chance tomorrow.

A scenic day with fairly moody overcast, misty conditions. This is by far my longest run of beds on the walk.

NB - my camera lens must have been slightly dirty as the photos appear even mistier than the day.

charles compton