There are two settlements to speak of in the shape of St Lawrence (population approx 1400) and Bradwell Waterside, the population of which is included in that of the nearby Bradwell on Sea (inland) which is given as 863. My route continues down the last short part of Lawling Creek and back on to the River Blackwater and out to its discharge in to the North Sea. Continuing round the peninsula and down the other side, I will take up the long-distance St Peter's Way for a very short distance, before going on to wild camp in the area around Tillingham Marshes.
The sun shining through the clouds actually helped to provide a kind of 'mother-of-pearl' translucence over the water that was lovely to see. Once I had cleared the point of Osea, I could see clear over the river to the area around Tollesbury where I had been walking a couple of days ago. When the tide is out here, there is a huge expanse of mud flats and marshes on the Blackwater Estuary that are home to numerous birds and one could spend hours sitting on the seawall admiring them as they feed.
Still walking on the seawall I continued with the river on my left, passing the expanse of Ramsey Marshes on my right. By now the clouds had cleared and there was a wonderful clarity to the light over the river that enabled me to see as far as Mersea Island in the far distance. St Lawrence Bay is stunning with wonderful vistas across the water and out to sea.
Inland, the view seemed endless over the marshes and the tilled fields beyond where early spring crops were showing their heads. I passed along the front of the sizeable village of Saint Lawrence, but with little difficulty resisted the temptation to leave the riverfront to investigate it.
Rejoining the seawall at Westwick Farm and now on the banks of Bradwell Creek, I was on the edges of the marina at the next settlement, Bradwell Waterside. Bradwell Marina provides 350 berths and has a clubhouse and restaurant, as well as a number of other support services for sailing. Again, I resisted the urge to stop here for refreshments but continued on to go inland again, round the marina and back on to the seawall at the other side. The smell of food cooking in the clubhouse was a temptation but I was carrying a lot of food and it needed to be used up; if only to lighten my load.
It was warm now and I was feeling the heat of the day and the accumulated miles of the last few days walking. Sitting on the seawall, lying back against my rucksack, enjoying the views across the water to the area around Brightling sea and with only the lap of the waves and the cry of the birds I gently nodded off and enjoyed a mid-day nap in the quiet of the afternoon.
The chapel of St Peter was founded by St Cedd (circa 620's) and is thought to have been built about 660 - 662. It is one of the few largely intact Saxon chapels in England still in regular use. Born in Northumbria Cedd was brought up and schooled on the Isle of Lindisfarne by the then Abbot, Aidan. At the time Cedd established the chapel he would still have been practising the Celtic Rites, which differed in various ways from the diocesan structure then practised in Europe, with the Celtic structure primarily based on the monasteries and missionary work, as opposed to Bishops, diocese and parish priests. Cedd is reported to have played an important role as a translator during the period of the Synod of Whitby which was to establish common practices among the various Irish, Welsh, Frankish and English churches, including agreeing a common dating for the observance of Easter. He was made Bishop of the East Saxons and died on 26 October 664 of the plague.
Rounding the peninsula I had left the River Blackwater behind and was walking towards the mouth of the River Crouch. On my left, I looked across Gunner's Creek and marshes and beyond to the tip of Foulness Island. From leaving the chapel I was on the lookout for any decent camping spot but they were hard to come by. As usual when wild camping, I was concerned to find a spot where I could pitch with some confidence that I would not be asked to move on after going to all the trouble of putting the tent up and setting up camp.
My original intention had been to walk as far as Tillingham Marshes, however, just the other side of the seawall from the Dengie Flats before Tillingham I found a nice little flat area where I would have protection from the wind and be tucked away out of site. As usual I had arrived late, just as the light was starting to fade but I still had time to cook up a feast of Italian sausage and pasta and then to lie back in the tent with the door open and with a cup of coffee to watch the sky light up as the sun settled in the west.
All that and not a drop of rain!