Southend, Burnham and Bradwell on Sea.
Saturday 3 February 2001
James, Michael, Astrid, Liz, Tim and me met at Liverpool Street at 10am bound for north-east Essex. Id messed up when saying that wed go to Southend then north over the lovely Crouch ferry to Burnham then north again to St. Peters. The ferry only runs in summer. So we got the 10.15 to Chelmsford (only £6.15 CDR with a railcard). 40 minutes later the roads out of Chelmsford were horrible ringroads then narrow A roads full of fast traffic not used to bikes. The roads turned into much quieter lanes once past the Purleigh vineyard and Latchingdon, Mayland and Steeple were prettyish villages with saturated fields in between. Water, water. At around 1pm we headed into St Lawrence on the river Blackwater .an end-of-the-line type trailer place with a lovely shoreline and excellent pub with cheap basic food and lots of it. I asked for double chips with my cod, only to be told there were quite enough in the meal anyway. Yup. And a helpful village notice board telling us that the Bradwell nuclear power station that had started to loom large on the horizon 4 miles away was being decommissioned and closed in 2002.
After the good lunch (during which Astrid fixed an inner tube and the bar staff unprompted rushed up with an albeit unnecessary bubble detection bowl of water. Bless) we headed west with the wind at our backs to Bradwell on Sea (not) and a gated mile of muddy Roman road to the muddy shore and St Peters Chapel. It was built on the site of a Roman fort .(and the recycled Roman bricks are easily spotted in the walls) in 654AD a sparse barn of a place and a moving survival. The local field are full of WW2 gun emplacements etc. The river, WW2 concrete invasion harbour bits.
(Skip or Concentrate .the Roman fort was built by Carausius around 280AD. He was a Belgian coastal pilot who joined the Roman army and got accused of letting pirates enter the local waters so as to rob them of their booty on the way home. He was sentenced to death by Emperor Maximian but escaped to Britain and set himself up in Essex with his own small army. Heart of Darkness stuff. He built a semicircle of forts from the Wash to the Isle of Wight .and its not clear whether those defences were to keep out the Saxon invaders or Romans. Anyroad, one of his officers killed him in 293 and after that, core Romans kept out Saxons, for a while). (Thank you guidebook).
After St Peters we headed south the 12 miles to Burnham-on-Crouch down deserted lanes and via Tillingham and Southminster. We hit Burnham station just as the Liverpool Street train pulled in. Some of us got it. The rest decided to tour lovely yachty Burnham. Great pint in riverside pub was followed by the 5.30 back to Liverpool Street.
About 45 miles. Long day out. We ignored the awful weather forecast, had clouds, coolness and some sun. And lots of sky. I really fancy taking my tent up there in summer one Friday after work and exploring. Does anyone feel the need to visit the St Austell Eden Greenhouse project one summer weekend? Tate St Ives too?