Heybridge Basin to Maylandsea 18.02.13
First walk of 2013 and I am excited and apprehensive, mostly as to whether my sore toe will hold up to the 12 miles I have planned. A few weeks after Xmas I was on a plane to Copenhagen to see an old friend in hospital. When I fly I like to take off my shoes and on this occasion, just as I stretched my leg (and foot) into the aisle, a rather heavy man came rushing down towards the toilets and inadvertently stamped on my foot, my little toe taking most of the weight. It may be broken, I have, as yet, not taken it to the doctor ……………………anyway.
The morning looks grey but the weather girl promises sun later and after a last wiggle of foot into boot I set off over the lock bridge following the clear path up the side of the creek back to Maldon, which I can soon see through the morning mist. I meet no-one and feeling there is no need to check the map for this stretch of the walk, I pay for my complacency by spending 10 minutes wandering around a particularly unpleasant recycling plant which leads me out onto the road into Maldon. The road walking does not take too long however and soon I am following a pleasant residential road, down to the Marina and the magnificent Thames barges.
Soon I find myself walking through Promenade Park presided over by the figure of valiant Byrhtnoth, an Anglo Saxon king who died fighting the Vikings in the battle of Maldon in 991.
Gradually, a familiar landscape unfolds, the grassy sea wall, mud flats, and salt marshes, mossy teeth of crumbling wrecks – peace and quiet apart from the wind in my left ear and bird song.
A few times my attention is caught by the narrow channels of water snaking through the glistening mud and I find myself wondering what determines their course and what are the many seabirds looking for as they peck away at the surface. Apart from geese and seagulls the only bird I recognise is the godwit, I need to study birds more.
And then I am in Maylandsea, a motley collection of working boats, a few dilapidated shops – probably one of the most forgotten corners of my walk so far. I sit waiting for a bus back to my B&B in Maldon, munching a humble ham and pickle sandwich which tastes like heaven on earth.