Valley views and estuary waters near the famous Flatford Mill

Peaceful scene

Peaceful scene - Credit: Archant

Lotte Sherman follows an intriguing linear route along the Essex Coastal path.

A walk along the Essex Coastal path

A walk along the Essex Coastal path - Credit: Archant

The Spill Weir known as the mysteriously named “Judas Gap”, not far along from the lock at Flatford, is the end of the estuary and the juncture where upstream waters start to mix with the tidal salty waters. However, if you intend to walk the Essex Coastal path, finish your journey at the Essex end of the White Bridge. This bridge spans the River Stour, which for most of its journey is the boundary between the counties of Essex and Suffolk; only the upper section flows through Suffolk and its source arises in Cambridgeshire. At its end, the waters flow partly through the large tidal barrage and partly along the navigation channel and underneath the old “Three Arch Cattawade Bridge” and enter the Stour Estuary. There are no further bridges and in Harwich harbour the rivers Stour and Orwell share the opening into the North Sea.

Views to look out for

Views to look out for - Credit: Archant

It is convenient to make this first section of the Essex Coastal Path a linear journey, taking the train from Manningtree to Wrabness and starting upstream along the seawall. For the middle section you will be directed away from the river, joining the Essex Way (EW), but will be guided back to the riverside in Mistley. From the complex of the Edme Maltings, the largest English producers of malt, the path runs behind the Twin Towers to emerge adjacent to the Walls, winds its way through the north end of Manningtree and passes behind the industrial area to exit next to the A137. It will be worth the extra couple of hundred metres to the right into Suffolk; veer to your right at the far end of the concrete bridge to take a close look at the old Cattawade Bridge and enjoy the peaceful setting hidden away from the present day traffic along the A137.

The riverbank

The riverbank - Credit: Archant

Getting off at Wrabness Station turn left to cross the rail bridge and follow the footpath downhill. Half-way down, you will pass a rather unusual house designed by Grayson Perry. At the bottom of the hill is the junction with the Essex Way (EW), which you can follow right into Mistley; you need to diligently locate the poppy logos on different posts to guide you. There are a couple of challenging turns devoid of any way marker, where a simple compass and Explorer map 184 can be of great help.

lotte sherman walk, eadt, aug 1

lotte sherman walk, eadt, aug 1 - Credit: Archant

Make time along the way to savour the views over the valley and take note of some interesting features. There is the bell cage in the churchyard in Wrabness, you pass by Oakfield, the green burial site managed by the Woodland Trust, meander through a nature reserve, see the remains of St Mary’s Church in Bradfield, some splendid ancient oaks on Furze Hill south of Mistley and finally cross back under the railway and through The Maltings, exiting onto the main road near the Swan Fountain and the Quay Café. The café serves a wide selection of healthy snacks and meals.

Canoeing on the river

Canoeing on the river - Credit: Archant

When refreshed, look for the fingerpost indicating the path behind the Twin Towers to continue along the Walls by the river. If you need to catch a train, return to Manningtree Station by the main road; if time allows, add the extra mile walking on the seawall to the Essex-Suffolk border, cross the concrete bridge and take a look at the Cattawade Bridge as described above.

See more walks here

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