Despite dire warnings of heavy rain I leave my B&B in Bradwell “Juxte Mare” under an overcast but dry sky. Feeling a little cowed by the lifeless nuclear power station, I walk briskly on, aware of the fact that I have a long day ahead of me.
Soon I am out on the familiar sea wall which now forms part of St Peter’s Way – this will take me to St Peter’s Chapel and then inland to Tillingham. After a few miles of bleak mudflats and marshes I am presented with an enticing turn off right through a small wood and quickly find myself walking down the “main street” of a community of wooden houses of all shapes and sizes. Feeling a little awkward to have ended up in someone’s back yard, I take a few surreptitious photos and walk on and up to the chapel, where I read on an information board that the buildings belong to the Othona Christian community.
The chapel is beautiful in its simplicity – originally the site of a Roman fort, it was built in 654 AD by St. Cedd who arrived from Lindisfarne to teach the Christian faith to the people of Essex. Leaving the coast I follow the cheery red and yellow signs of St Peter’s Way through flat featureless fields until I get to Tillingham – the sun has come out and I sit and eat my lunch in the garden of a local pub.
The walk from Tillingham to Southminster is monotonous, through anonymous fields, the landscape occasionally broken by a pretty church or majestic windmill. But just as I am beginning to tire, I find myself standing in front of a slightly disturbing sign warning me of potentially dangerous cattle. I stand and weigh up the alternatives – I could turn back but that would mean a long walk on a fairly busy road. So, heart in mouth I climb over the stile and just as I’m thinking the cattle must have moved on, I turn a corner and there they are – a herd of frisky bullocks! I look around for an escape, as they are already trotting determinedly towards me, shaking their heads in anticipation of a bit of fun. Luckily I see a gap in the fence supported by a metal post and just about low enough for me to haul myself over, banging my knee painfully on the pole – but I was safe!
The run into Burnham on Crouch is straightforward and after a stroll along the front I sit watching the boats in the bay.