Staycation with a Bicycle… on to the Blackwater
Late May 2021
In the second of her blogs, Christine Knight reports back from the remote Dengie peninsula, where she and husband David took their bikes in late spring.
Having both been born and bred in Essex, there are not many tourist spots or towns that we haven’t visited over the years, but, being the large county it is, there are plenty of places off the beaten track still to be explored.
The Dengie peninsula with the River Blackwater to the north and the River Crouch to the south is one such area.
As a child, Maldon was a bus-ride away and a visit was a summer weekend treat. It has continued to be a regular haunt, with its individual high street, pleasant walk along The Hythe to see the Thames barges, the Maeldune Centre housing the Maldon Millennium embroidery celebrating 1,000 years of Maldon’s history since the Battle of Maldon in 991 and, in Promenade Park, the statue of Byrhtnoth, who died in the battle. However, there never seemed to be a need to venture much farther east… until today, that is.
Having decided on a suitable route, the car was parked at Ramsey Island overlooking the River Blackwater. In fact, the Blackwater would be with us for most of our ride. The aim of the day was to travel from Ramsey Island to Bradwell Waterside and to return via Tillingham.
A footpath follows large parts of the Essex coastline, but it’s not really suitable for cycling, so our journey to Bradwell Waterfront was along the roads. On a wonderfully sunny day and with the scent of spring in the air, we set off through the Essex countryside, with views of the river when gaps in the hedge allowed.
A few miles (and hills) later, we coasted past the marina and into the riverside village of Bradwell Waterfront as far as we could go without getting wet feet. A gentleman working on his boat pointed out the landmarks on the opposite side of the estuary – Tollesbury Wick immediately in front, Osea Island to the left and Mersea Island to the right. One landmark we couldn’t miss and that needed no introduction was the giant structure of Bradwell nuclear power station.
Back on the bikes, we retraced our route and then branched off the main road towards Tillingham. Reaching the outskirts of the village, we turned towards St Lawrence. The countryside was amazingly green and, now being on minor roads, there was hardly a car to be seen.
The aim was to reach St Lawrence Church, where we would stop for a few minutes. However, what we didn’t expect was the amazing view. Set high above the estuary and with no trees or buildings to block the view, it was possible to see the Blackwater in all its glory glittering in the afternoon sun. And there moored in St Lawrence Bay was the Ross Revenge – the boat from which Radio Caroline broadcast after the Mi Amigo sank.
Whizzing down the hill from the church to the main road with the wind rushing past was fun before turning back on to the main road and finally back to the car.
A lovely part of Essex and one that needs to be explored further – we still have the rest of the summer!