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Of course, it wasn’t what we had ideally planned; nothing ever is these days, is it?
The only way is Essex
Having booked our ferry to Ireland for 31st August we didn’t fancy the two week quarantine on arrival, and with a second thought trip to Germany already abandoned and no chance of watching Le Grand Depart of Le Tour de France in Nice which was probably our dream first choice, we decided on a tour of England.
So already bemoaning our fate we made our own ‘Grand Depart’ and off we set from a sunny Swanmore, Hampshire on our
“ Roads Less Travelled Tour of England” on Tuesday 1st September 2020.
Of course, it’s only roads less travelled by us .
To begin with Wend had spent hours on the telephone the week before trying to book sites…all were full and by the time she had finished we would have been happy to take a lay -by on the motorway. “This takes all of the enjoyment out of it “ bemoaned Wend. “Why can’t we be like in France and just roll up to a village Aire”.
Well, we can’t. Covid, okay?.
Finally, after her dedication (determination?) and much persistence we arrived in Goldhanger, Essex…thanks to a last minute cancellation .
So now we are Essex Girls for the next few days, albeit in a campervan and no glamping and no frocks.
We arrived at a beautiful, quiet, 2 acre site in an orchard right on the Black Water channel estuary in a small village with buses running only to Maldon , two pubs and two old disused fuel pumps.
A short walk through the church yard and fields brought us to a shoreline reminiscent of the coastal inlets of the West Sussex coast near Bosham. The tide comes in….then goes out …leaving for the most part mud flats…sometimes a little smelly and really quite lovely. And all very,very flat
Heaven …we think we might just stay here. Phin, determined to show the furry girls, aka Lola and Gracie, that at 10 months old he was well up to leading our walk along the England Coastal Path.
A day trip 20 minutes down the road to the island of Mersea didn’t go quite as planned .The problem was the intended coastal path walk nearly became a disaster, with the sea coming in and breaching the sea defences in a couple of places. We had to turn around after a few miles when confronted by an Essex version of the Panama Canal with gushing sea water heading for the salt marshes .By the time we retraced back along the sea wall, a place we had cheerfully skipped across ten minutes earlier was now in danger of becoming impassable , which would have left us well and truly stranded between the two.
The broken sea wall, our return path an hour before high tide.
Fortunately we had looked up the tide times and had always kept a wary eye seawards.
- Campsite: 2019/2020 Caravan and Motorhome. C.L. No. 558
- Good for dogs.
- So nice it’s a possible stay for you on your way to Harwich.
- Pubs very close by.
- Car Park. Mersea Island. Best found £5 per day Victoria Terrace.
So onward to Suffolk , Aldeburgh and the Sailors Path…..
Another lovely day.
After a drive through pretty little villages with a mixture of old and new houses we popped into the Suffolk seaside village of Orford . A pleasant enough place
with a fine medieval castle and little riverside huts selling oysters.
Probably known best for Orford Ness, a long, wide 10 mile shingle spit part nature and part man made and owned and run by the National Trust. Usually visited by a small ferry but closed today. An interesting history of armed guards and odd abandoned military struct ures.
We did however enjoy a very good piece of cake and coffee in the riverside cafe and a lovely circular walk along the waters edge and back into the village.
The weather although not always sunny was unseasonally warm.
Continuing on we arrived at our field campsite at Blakehall, near Snape, late afternoon …just before the rain set in for an hour and then a beautiful everning complete with a rainbow.
Next day we rose to yet another beautiful sunny morning just perfect for our day trip to Snape and Aldeburgh.
Now, when we said “roads less travelled” as you may have already guessed we really do mean by us…in England …us , renowned for Wendying our way through the backroads of Spain and France.
The full campsites were a clue of course…and we did choose the coastal seaside route. So needless to say from Goldhanger onwards it was the roads well travelled by staycation Englanders in biblical hordes.
And so to Suffolk and sweet corn, loads being harvested with tractors and fully laden trailers hurtling along every narrow roadway. (Have to admit to prefering the smaller sedate grape filled trailers of France.. more romantic somehow)
Snape Maltings. Famous for being a “world leading centre of music set against a breath -taking back drop of reeds water and sky”. And horrendously expensive shops.
Artwork ‘To Give Light’ 2018 by Ryan Gander, Somewhere were ones by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth but we managed to miss them due to the call of a coffee and cheese scone and one of the few places we were asked to fill in a ‘track and trace’ form.
Founded by Suffolk born composer Benjamin Britain and hosting outstanding musical events throughout the year, the most famous being the Aldburgh festival in June, it is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the River Alde and is a haven for wildlife loved by bird watchers and nature lovers alike.
Well worth the visit and we made sure we arrived before the hordes which we soon escaped from by taking a sunny 5 mile walk to.St. Boltolphs church at Iken with its unusual thatch roof.
To complete the walk on the return Wend spotted some of the rare seals sunning themselves on a reed bank in the river.
Aldburgh, always a honeypot type of place was diverted around and onto Thorpeness just as busy but visited to complete part of our day trip out and circular walks.
The Windmill and House in the Clouds
(a disguised water tower) at Thorpeness.. Around 100 years ago Thorpeness became a fantasy holiday village, one of the first purpose built holiday developments in the world. Around 1910 it was a fishing hamlet until a Scottish barrister made into the holiday village complete with windmill , house in the clouds and a boating lake supposedly inspired by ‘Peter Pan’ written while J. Barrie was staying here.
Onwards and upwards…
The Norfolk Broads Next.