On a dry but cloudy Saturday, I caught the 0700 train from from Birmingham International to Euston. Despite slow running though the Coventry area due to the theft of signalling cable, the train arrived punctually into London Euston at 0814. The Circle Line was not running that day, so I assembled the bike and rode the short distance to Liverpool Street, arriving by 0840. A short wait saw me installed on the 0908 Clacton train which was on time into Colchester.
I originally planned to take the rail connection to Hythe but, instead, opted to disembark at Colchester and ride through the town, which turned out to be a bustling centre with a number of old and grand buildings. I paused by the River Colne to take pictures of the old mill before pedalling to Hythe where the most prominent building was the local Tesco Supermarket.
The route then took me along an attractive riverside track, past the University of Exeter to the small town of Wivenhoe (1050). This is a delightful unspoiled place with a range of buildings from clapper board houses, decoratively plastered building to good solid Victorian pubs. It also enjoys a lovely position beside the river.
I was expecting all of Essex to be flat, but here I travelled over undulating ground, through an unremarkable housing estate on the edge of Wivenhoe and out into farming country. Alresford was passed (1120) without feeling the urge to remove the camera from its stowage.
My original plan was to cycle to Brighlingsea and take the ferry across to Point Clear. I had made several attempts to contact the operators, but there appeared to be no one to take the call. On reaching Thorrington, I made one final call and yet again drew a blank. Since, if the ferry was not available, I would have to cycle a further 8 miles, I paused at Thorrington (1140) to eat a sandwich before following the B1027 to St Osyth (1210).
St Osyth is a small town, busy with tourists who come to frequent the quaint tea rooms and souvenir shops. The lovely abbey, currently undergoing restoration, is the focal point of the visitors. After a few pictures of the abbey and the architecture, I was on my way to St Osyth beach.
Here, the contrast could not have been greater. Mobile homes as far as the eye could see were surrounding a group of whitewashed shops which sported a bookmaker and tatooist. It was here that I finally reached the sea and turned left to follow the promenade for the next nine miles. Seaward, it was lovely, but landward was truly awful.
Jaywick (1250) was one of the most squalid and depressing villages I have visited. All the houses in the place appear to have started life a beach chalets! (Or did the beach chalets start life as houses?). I did not linger.
Perhaps I was in the wrong mood, but Clacton (1315) was a place I had visited over 40 years previously. There was nothing there to hold me, so I continued along the promenade to Frinton on Sea with its lovely Victorian and Edwardian architecture, arriving in Walton on the Naze (1430) where I enjoyed my customary fish and chips overlooking the sea. There was time to explore this well-worn resort with many original buildings before making my way to the station to catch 1545 train.
An efficient connection at Thorpe-le Soken transferred me to the Liverpool Street bound express. I arrived in London on hour ahead of plan at 1716. This gave me plenty of time to meander through the streets of London to Euston and enjoy a cup of coffee before boarding the 1903 train which brought me to Birmingham International and the ever patient car at 2013.
See the pictures
Next trip: 13/14 July - County Gate to Barnstaple