Coastal path meander

THIS journey explores another stretch of the Essex coastal path, part of the wide Blackwater estuary.

To get the most enjoyment out of this journey, take the map, binoculars, a wind-proof jacket and a drink with you.

Start this circular ramble from St Peter’s Church entrance gate by following the public footpath through the churchyard and out via a stile to a field- edge path.

Yellow way-markers guide you along; first crossing a farm track, shortly veering right to Joyce’s Farm.

Look carefully for the yellow arrows on posts directing walkers along the public right-of-way around the yard and onwards to Lauriston Farm, Although it is a marked footpath, it appears to be little walked and is not easily recognised.

Halfway around the wall surrounding Joyce’s Farm, look carefully for the marker pointing to the cross-field path to Lauriston Farm. When arriving at the farm drive, skirt around the right of the property and look for the fingerpost at the far side on your left, indicating the continuation of the footpath. It runs by the right side of a hedge and soon crosses Bowstead Brook.

Proceed on the path for approximately half a kilometre, when you arrive at a track leading off to the right towards the seawall. Leave the footpath here and walk towards the defence wall to gain access to it. (The next access is further east, via Prentice Hall Lane. You would need to follow the marked footpath inland and walk a loop of approximately an extra two miles).

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Mount the sea-defence, turn right and walk literally “up the creek”. The defence wall twists along between the edge of the mudflats, the fields and the protected Joyce’s Marshes.

At Highams Farm Floodgates, walkers need to get down the steps and up again to proceed further along the higher path to the long, narrow inlet, which provides shelter for small boats. A bench invites you to rest awhile and savour the different sounds, sights and views.

This is a perfect place to watch sea creatures crawling along just above water level in the distance. By permission only, at low tide, cars can travel to Osea Island on a causeway. Another feature on the opposite side of the inlet is the numerous poly-tunnels belonging to the famous Tiptree firm of Wilkins & Sons.

You are nearly back to the village. The church tower is visible over your right shoulder. At the northern end of the inlet, concrete steps lead down to a narrow green lane. Take this footpath to the end, where it exits into Fish Street.

It is but a short distance on this road to the north to return to the starting point and welcome refreshments in the Chequers public house. Do not miss having a look at the restored working well by the side of the car park for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, an example of the spirit of Goldhanger’s artisans.