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Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country

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Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country
Author: Steve Hallam, Published: 12 May 2017 Walk Rating:star0 Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide star0 Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide star0 Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide star0 Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide star0 Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide
Essex, Colchester
Walk Type: Coastal
Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country
Length: 9 miles,  Difficulty: boot Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide boot Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide
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This nine and a half mile circular Essex walk offers varied and attractive country – estuary, creeks, pasture and arable farmland, woodland, sand quarries (both working and abandoned), extensive views, and the historic Cinque port of Brightlingsea, 8 miles south east of Colchester. Birdwatching opportunities vary from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’. This walk provides a lot of interest and surpassed my expectations!

The walking is flat and easy-going throughout. No sections were wet, but doubtless some may become so after heavy rain. There are several kissing gates and just one stile, which will not provide a daunting barrier for either humans or dogs. About two miles of the route is on tarmac, most of which is quiet country lanes, but including about 0.3 of a mile through Brightlingsea, taking in its historic ‘Hard’. Both cattle and sheep will be encountered. Allow five hours, plus view-gazing, birdwatching and exploration time.

The walk starts from Brightlingsea Promenade Way, CO7 0HH. Along this road there are three car parks, plus on road parking. The on road parking is free, but between May – September the car parks cost 80p - £1 per hour, depending on the length of stay. The tracked route starts in the middle of the three car parks, but as long as you head for the walkway in front of the beach huts, you will pick the tracked route up. Brightlingsea is served by the First Essex bus 62 from Colchester and the Hedingham bus 87, also from Colchester. Both of these buses also serve the next village of Alresford, where there is a station on the railway line from Colchester to Clacton. So this walk can be reached by train.

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Walk Sections

Start to Lane by Pond
Start to Lane by Pond

Start point: 51.8058 lat, 1.0148 long
End point: 51.81 lat, 1.0408 long

Walk to the front, beach side of the beach huts and turn left. Walk to the end of the promenade and, where it ends, walk down the left side of the sailing club. Continue straight ahead, along Oyster Tank Road, until you reach a T-junction with Colne Road, where you turn right. Follow the road, as it jinks right, becomes New Street, and then back left to become Waterside. Where the road forks, go right, to visit the ‘Hard’, which was the original port and is now where a foot ferry runs from in the summer.

Turn left, to pass by the Harbour Commissioners building, and then turn left again to reach the end of Tower Street – which you walk up. By number 127, on the right side of the road, take the signed public footpath. Follow this path as it swings to the left. 75 yards after this corner, a path crosses the one you are on. Turn right here, to go down a narrow path, with ivy on both sides of its entrance.

Follow this path as it opens out into a field. It runs down the right side of two fields, with industrial and yachting buildings on the other side of the hedge. At the end of the last yacht compound, follow the path up onto the flood bank and continue straight on. Pass an isolated house where the path becomes a track, and follow this track straight across the salt marsh. In spring and summer this area is full of singing Reed, Sedge and Ceti’s warblers.

Where the track turns left, a signposted footpath carries straight on (after kinking slightly to the right). Follow this path along the side of the salt marsh, with houses on the bank to your left. I thought they looked most desirable! The path turns left to go up a slope between gardens to reach a tarmac lane.

Lane by Pond to Creek
Lane by Pond to Creek

Start point: 51.81 lat, 1.0408 long
End point: 51.8207 lat, 1.0457 long

Turn right to walk down the lane. At a triangular junction with a ‘Dead end’ road sign, turn left. Follow this lane back towards Brightlingsea, passing a new housing development on the left. Opposite Granville Way, a footpath goes off right (there is a fingerpost, but it has been rather enveloped by the hedge). Take and follow this fenced path past flooded old gravel workings to a track, where you turn right. Follow this track to a fork, where you bear left, as indicated by a yellow arrow on a fence post.

Pass in front of the attractive Marsh Farmhouse, admiring the landscaped pond down the slope to your left. The track bears right shortly afterwards, and just before it ends at a gate into a private garden, take the fenced footpath that goes off to the left. This runs down to a sandy track, where you turn right. Follow this track for about 40 yards, to where you see a yellow footpath arrow (on a post on a grassy bank to the left). Turn left to follow the path up onto the bank. This is the flood bank protecting a little creek, down which your route lies. The next waypoint is a few yards further on down this bank (I forgot to tap the button where it starts – amateur.)

Creek to B1029
Creek to B1029

Start point: 51.8207 lat, 1.0457 long
End point: 51.8318 lat, 1.0186 long

Follow the flood bank to the second of two right-hand bends. Here an arrowed narrow footpath goes off left, to run between scrubby bushes (good for Whitethroats). Follow it as it enters a grass field, through a metal kissing gate, and then runs alongside the hedge. (There may be cattle in this field, and also in several more along this next stretch). When you reach the far side of the field, at a T-junction with another footpath, turn left. Walk across the field to exit it through a second metal kissing gate, onto a track.

You now keep going straight for the next 1.2 miles, ignoring any tracks or paths that might tempt you to do otherwise. Sometimes the route follows a track, sometimes it is a path along a field boundary. There is one ‘stile’ (a barrier formed of three horizontal planks), two kissing gates, and a stretch of nice Oak woodland.

Just before you reach the busy B1029, the track swings to the right, to access the road, while a yellow arrow on a post indicates that the public right of way goes straight on, into and through some bushes. My experience indicates that few use the path, on account of the thigh high nettles and thistles. You will have to take your own decision – but I know which option I will take in future.

Either way, when you get to the road, cross over to access the pavement / bridleway on the other side.

B1029 to Quarry Entrance
B1029 to Quarry Entrance

Start point: 51.8318 lat, 1.0186 long
End point: 51.8293 lat, 1.0036 long

Part way between where the track comes out on to the road, and where the path does, the pavement veers slightly away from the carriageway to become a bridleway. Turn left onto this, to go up the slight hill. It parallels the road, but is separated from it by a strip of vegetation. It is quite arboreal and rather pleasant – especially when there is a break in the traffic.

At the top of the hill you will see the magnificent and isolated Brightlingsea church on your right. Pass admiringly in front of this, to turn right into the dead end lane signposted to Moverons Farm. The good news is that not much traffic uses this lane; the less good news is that most of what does is comprised of lorries going to either the quarry at the end, or the landfill site part way down. I did not get passed by one – but you might be unlucky. The lane passes by some attractive mature woodland.

Follow this lane all the way to the entrance to the quarry, on the right side of what appears to be the end of the road (but, of course, is not).

Quarry Entrance to Alresford Creek
Quarry Entrance to Alresford Creek

Start point: 51.8293 lat, 1.0036 long
End point: 51.8357 lat, 0.9934 long

Carry on along the lane, which becomes loose topped at this point, passing the quarry buildings on your right. Keep on along this track, ignoring a footpath that goes off on the left. The track splits – ignore the left turn and take the track that bears slightly right, before straightening and passing in front of an isolated house. Follow this track as it gently descends to the flood bank in front of Alresford Creek. You may wish to keep an eye open for Marsh Harriers floating by.

Alresford Creek to Metal Kissing Gate
Alresford Creek to Metal Kissing Gate

Start point: 51.8357 lat, 0.9934 long
End point: 51.8159 lat, 0.997 long

On the flood bank, turn left to pass through the wooden kissing gate. Follow the top of the bank. This section is used by both cattle and sheep. The land to your left is of good conservation value, so birds and butterflies will, in season, be numerous. Shortly the bank swings to the left to run down the side of the Colne Estuary.

You may note that the curvature of the path seems rather smoothly sweeping. This is because you are now walking along the trackbed of an abandoned railway that once ran from Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea. At the end of this section you pass through a metal kissing gate, where a bank comes in at 90 degrees to meet the one you are on.

Metal Kissing Gate to End
Metal Kissing Gate to End

Start point: 51.8159 lat, 0.997 long
End point: 51.8061 lat, 1.0147 long

From here you follow the popular flood bank path all the way back to the start of Brightlingsea promenade. The birdwatching opportunities and views are as good as they are along the rest of the Colne Estuary – which is pretty good.

As you approach the start of the beach huts you will see the tower featured in the icon image for this walk. According to Wikipedia, this is Bateman's tower, which was built in 1883 by John Bateman as a folly for his daughter to recuperate from consumption. The tower leans slightly; it is said that its foundations were laid on bundles of faggots. So no, it is not just my bad photo!

When you reach the start of the beach huts I jinked right, to walk between the huts and the beach. Depending on where you parked, turn left at the appropriate point to return to either your car or the town centre.

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network Brightlingsea: Coast, Creeks and Country Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by the author SteveHallam and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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