Manningtree to Harwich – Saturday 20th May

Text contributed by Anni M., pics by Simon.

It was a beautiful day. Blue sky, moderate breeze and nine of us, including walk leader Kate, assembled outside Manningtree Station, having arrived by train, car and bike.

After recent weeks of rain, it felt like spring had properly arrived, with cow parsley, daisies and buttercups bursting out all over. Birds sang and chirped in the hedges, and the yellow rapeseed fields were pretty as a picture against sky and the azure of the Stour estuary. The walk is part of the Essex Way, which is an 81-mile-long path commencing in Epping in Northeast London and finishing at Harwich.

We were in good spirits as we set off at 9.45am. Kate led us through the outskirts of Manningtree, and we were soon in woodland sighting remnants of the recent bluebell blossoms. We walked through open farmland brimming with rapeseed, newly ploughed fields and what looked like young wheat and barley.

We had a welcome lunch stop lunch in the grounds of St Lawrence’s Church in Wrabness, which also houses the Wrabness bell cage (the bell tower was destroyed by fire a couple of centuries ago, but the caged bell is still on sight).

Another landmark of note was Grayson Perry’s house, described as ‘an artwork in itself’ and a gallery for some of his work. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but art is subjective and a good topic of conversation.

As it was a warm day, the posse agreed to stop at the Castle Inn pub in Ramsey for a mid-afternoon refreshment. A very welcome thirst-quencher and re-group opportunity. We were now anticipating cake at Miriam’s beach hut in Dovercourt, a great incentive for tired legs.

Passing saltmarshes, we headed for the sea wall braced by the moderate north-east wind and onwards to Dovercourt. We were in good spirits. Miriam made us so welcome. We had chairs and loungers to sit on; homemade carrot cake and a special gluten-free chocolate cake for Kate, tea and coffee. We also availed ourselves of the nearby conveniences.

We even attempted to come up with as many songs as possible with the word ‘summer’ in them. What a laugh.

Whether it was the fresh sea air, the fifteen or so miles already covered, or just the sheer delight of sharing a great walk with friends, it was a walk to remember for all the right reasons. After clearing up, we completed the last two miles along the coast to Harwich Station and caught the train back to Manningtree, parting company just after 8pm. Distance covered was just over 16 and ¾ miles, so let’s just say 17 for ease of memory.