Day 323: Mersea Island to Goldhanger
Distance: 24.33 miles
Ascent: 841 feet
Weather: Rain, Wind & Hail
Accommodation: Wild camp Near Goldhanger
Well last night was quite a night. The tent was well sheltered from the North and East by embankments but still the weather was doing its worst and the tent was battered by wind, rain and heavy hail throughout the night and though I did sleep it was very broken because the noise on the canvas was so loud. It was still raining this morning and with today being quite long I was packing up before 7 and fortunately the rain stopped for about half an hour whilst I depitched and set of around 7:30.
The first 5 miles today were along country roads and as per yesterday these were much busier than I expected considering they mainly only fed Mersea Island. They also had very minimal verge so I had to just be bold and walk along with my high vis cover on, fortunately the rain mostly held off or was light for this part. When I finally reached the path, I was so incredibly glad to get off the road. But the weather decided to choose this moment to start raining heavily.
It was not too far till Salcott and just before the village I passed a series of barns with pigs in, and accidentally I spooked a massive one who charged off straight into the gate on the other side and I thought with the force she may actually go straight through but it stood firm. I had spotted a church from the other side of the small creek and decided if it was open I would shelter inside to have a quick break. Luckily it was open, and whilst I checked to see if it had a toilet (which it didn’t) I spotted a kettle and there was a little sign saying you could make a tea or coffee if you wished and leave a small donation, this cheered me right up and a warm drink was just what I needed.
Today had lots of sticky out bits of the coastline and the next part was Old Hall Marshes which was essentially a 5 mile embankment loop around a nature reserve, I am sure this would be lovely in good weather but with the rain getting heavier and more constant it was not ideal. I reached Tollesbury and decided due to dampness and cold temperature I would stop in the sort of builders café there (a secondary bonus of all the accommodation last week is I have a little bit more budget capacity for a few cafes in the last 10 days if wet or extremely cold.)
After leaving Tollesbury I had another of the sticky out bits following the embankment around Tollesbury Wick Marshes. It is at this point that the first of the heavy hail periods started and I tried to use the embankment to shelter me which didn’t help much but pretty much all my skin was already covered so at least it wasn’t painful.
The final 6 miles were all along embankments and during the first hour it was strong winds, hail and rain, but as I got nearer Goldhanger the weather did improve a bit meaning I wasn’t quite as soaked by the time I got to Goldhanger.
Due to the weather today I had made the decision much earlier that I would try and pitch as close to the village as possible as then I could walk up to the pub and dry out a bit. I found a spot amongst the trees not far from the village football pitch and only a 5/10 minute walk from the pub. I pitched quickly and then headed straight up to the Chequers Pub. My boots were in front of the fire, I had the biggest plate of food ever and a gentlemen gave me a kind donation so it had been a great evening.
Slightly embarrassingly on my back from the pub, having hidden my tent so people wouldn’t see it I had hidden it so well I couldn’t initially find it myself. It was actually only 10m from where I was but took me over 10 minutes to find it amongst the undergrowth (which wasn’t overly dense). Once I found it I was straight in and warmed up quickly in the sleeping bag.
Brutal weather today, but an incredibly satisfying day.