Staycation with a Bicycle… Jaywick or bust!

Nothing quite like it! Clacton beach

June 2021

In their latest adventure in the saddle, Christine and David Knight took to Route 150…

For people who don’t live by the sea, the Essex coast in all its diversity is always a special place to visit. From popular holiday resorts to lonely marshes, from the North Sea to tidal rivers and from ports to small villages, there seems to be something for everyone.
Having spent many childhood holidays at Holland-on-Sea, it is always a pleasure to return to that part of the coast and walk along the greensward or the beach, but the distance walked is nothing compared with the distance that can be cycled in the same time.
With the continuing uncertainty regarding overseas travel, it is likely the Essex coast will be a popular destination during the summer. We therefore decided to make the most of the good weather and visit the area before the start of the main holiday season.
What we didn’t know was that National Cycle Network Route 150 is a traffic-free 6.5- mile pedestrian and cycling path between Frinton-on-Sea and Jaywick. That was the route sorted – ideal!
We also discovered that the route is part of the Frinton and Holland-on-Sea World War II trail, which details the coastal defences built in this part of Essex.
There is only one road in and out of Frinton and that is over the railway line by the station, but parking, especially at the northern end of the esplanade, is usually fairly easy out of season. Once on the bikes and coasting down the road towards the golf course (the start of Route 150), the greensward and sea to the left and the sun shining, the day was full of promise.

The greensward at Frinton

To start with, the route was below the sea wall behind the beach huts and alongside the golf course, where the swallows ducked and dived above us. Several times we stopped to walk up a ramp to the footpath on the seawall for fine views of the North Sea on one side and over Holland Brook towards Great Holland on the other.
Once the site of a small harbour, the area was reclaimed from the sea when the harbour silted up and is now Holland Haven Country Park.

Wildflowers at Frinton-on-Sea

Before long, the path rose to join the sea wall and finally we were back to the cliff-top at Holland-on-Sea. Here the breakwaters have been replaced by large rocks that break up the expanse of sand into small bays. It could have been the Mediterranean rather than the North Sea, with hardly a cloud in the sky, the sand yellow in the sunshine, the swishing of the waves and that unmistakable smell of the sea.

Holland-on-Sea looking towards Clacton pier

Onwards towards Clacton, with the Gunfleet Sands windfarm clearly visible out to sea and the pier with its two Ferris wheels becoming clearer by the minute.
The path by the pier was busy even in early June and the only part of the route where it felt easier to cycle on the road.
Continuing along Marine Parade and through the cliff-top gardens, just being given their summer make-over, suddenly the topography changed. We were now at beach level, cycling past the Martello tower. The sand was full of grass and wildflowers, including red valerian and sea holly. We had made it to Jaywick.
On the return journey we stopped near the pier to buy an ice cream from the oldest kiosk in Clacton – a well-deserved treat!
We enjoyed the ride so much we cycled the same route again a couple of weeks later!

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