Exploring Essex – Muddy trails and nature walks

From my point of view, photo of our boots covered in muddy on an extremely muddy path.

As the low winter sun rays reflected on the wet road and the chilly air cut through our riding gear, I once again asked myself why do we do this? Why do we change warmth and comfort for a cold and sometimes wet bike ride? Honestly, I have no idea XD, I just know there is something magical about going on the motorcycle down country lanes, feeling one with the nature, with no barrier between you and the smells (good and bad) or the weather.

In 2020, we explored Essex a lot, from small, cute villages in the middle of nowhere to muddy walks and nature reserves. I see this as a positive side of lockdown and grounding of the flights – people were forced to look for entertainment in their own backyard, to look for beautiful places a short walk or ride away from their homes. This will have to be our mantra for the next month as well since the lockdown is extended until end of March.

We mostly kept to places close to Chelmsford as lockdown rules don’t allow for longer trips (unless you’re Dominic Cummings). But it was also because day trips are much more relaxing when you don’t spend more than half of it on the road.

“Sure, the grass may look greener over there. It will, though, eventually lose its color too. Just as the present yard you stand on, that is neglected and not watered. Take care of your own yard.”.”

Christine E. Szymanski

Tollesbury Wick

Essex coastline is full of marshes. Tollesbury Marina & Wick is one of the places where you can see some of them. Depending on what time of the day you arrive, you can be greeted by boats and barges happily bobbing on water, or by those same boats and barges lying in a middle of a bog. If you have ever seen Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers, just remember Frodo and Sam going through The Dead Marshes with all the dead bodies in the water. This is similar. Minus the dead of course.

Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers.

J. R. R. Tolkien – The Two Towers

I joke of course, it is not dreary or wearisome. Only extremely muddy during winter and wet weather so bring some wellies or good waterproof walking shoes. There is a trail you can take that will take you around the marshlands and by many bird watching spots. Another interesting thing you can see while walking the path is the Bradwell Power plant, the first decommissioned nuclear power plant in UK.

The path itself is about 9 miles long and takes around 4 hours.

Hadleigh Castle

Another muddy trail attempted in the middle of winter. Don’t get your hopes up, all that is left over from the castle are ruins of a few towers. The place is a part of English heritage and there are plaques that tell you a bit about the history of the place.

It does look lovely walking by them with a view of the Hadleigh Ray river. This was a really short stop for us as it was absolutely freezing and the husband couldn’t warm his hands up at all. It being lockdown, we couldn’t even get a cup of tea.

It is a very popular place with dog walkers. There is a trail that goes all the way down to the river and to the marshes (yup, marshes again). And yes, at some parts the trail was a total quagmire so do make sure you have good shoes on if you are going during wet season.

Danbury Lakes

Quite a popular little place in the area. The husband first took me here back in 2009 and we have been back a few times over the years. Each time it seemed to be less and less appealing. We visited again this year and it just seems that the wilderness was tamed and instead of it being a nature walk, you have a feeling you are walking through well groomed gardens situated around two lakes.

I don’t think we will be going back there any time soon…

Blake’s Wood

Blake’s Wood is a part of Danbury Common and close to the lakes mentioned above.

This was one of our favourite places in spring time. We found it by chance, while pouring over a map of the Chelmsford and surrounding area trying to find places to go. I don’t know how many locals know about it as there were only a few people there each time we went. That was a big plus considering it was the first lockdown, the weather was nice and everyone was using their allotted 1 hour exercise time. The central park in Chelmsford was packed.

Anywho, the first time we visited Blake’s Wood, the bluebells were in full bloom (as you can see) and the path was dry. Going deeper into the forest, the sound of birds overtook the sound of other people. By a teeny tiny creek, we even saw Muntjac deer calmly grazing in the bushes. It is not a big forest, but you can easily spend more than an hour here just enjoying the nature.

Epping Forest

Lastly, I will mention Epping forest, quite a substantial forest on the outskirts of London. I think it offers a lot more than we experienced in that short time we were there. We were not that taken by it, but in this case I think it was more our fault. You could easily spend half a day waking through the forest but you should come prepared for it.

Even though we saw it on the map, we didn’t realised how big it actually was and when we got there, we didn’t plan to spend more than an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Because of this we made a smaller circle, got lost once because, of course, I HAVE to veer off the path to go and take a picture of that pretty tree. Then we kinda gave up on the whole thing. It was one of those days we were not really up for longer walks.

It definitely is a gorgeous bit of nature on London’s doorstep and has many paths you can take. I think you can easily come here and successfully avoid any other people in the area. Parking wise, there are several parking spots all around but I do believe it is paid parking for cars. Bikes go free 😀

Is lockdown still in place where you are? How are you dealing with this new way of life?

One thought on “Exploring Essex – Muddy trails and nature walks

  1. Another great read. Somewhere else to add to our wish list when time permits.
    It has been good exploring local places during lock down via the numerous footpaths. A flask of tea and a sandwich in the rucksack and disappear for the day. Bliss

    Like

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