So a couple sundays ago me and the better half were up at the crack of dawn to take Paddy and Choccie for a nice mornings walk as we usually do at the weekend. I didn,t really fancy the usual places we go to so i opted for a stretch of the River Crouch than runs from Battlesbridge through to Hullbridge, Sharon hadn,t been there before so this swung the decision also. Its a bit ‘hit and miss’ as to whether you can walk this area as you have to park in a lay-by which only has room for the one vehicle and there is nowhere else near to park if the lay-by is already taken. Fortunately we were lucky as there was no-one else there so we parked, got the jackets on and off we set.
It was a cold frosty morning, van temperature gauge was reading -4, but having stopped of on the way to grab a coffee we weren,t too bothered, and the boys definitely didn,t care as they raged around the undergrowth as we walked along the first stretch of sea wall. Its a nice stretch of river that can easily be walked from just outside Battlesbridge through to the outskirts of Hullbridge. On the opposite side of the river is a caravan park, which admittedly isn,t the most pretty of things to look at, but it does,t deter from the beauty of the surrounding area.
A heavy frost covered the ground but it was quickly disappearing as the suns warmth melted the ice crystals as it rose higher in the sky. The river itself was flat calm as there wasn,t even a hint of a breeze blowing which gave the whole area a peaceful feel to it. I tried to take a few fancy pictures using my phone of which some have come out ‘ok’ and others were just deleted. I say it every time but i do need to start taking out my dlsr camera as i,m missing out on so many oppurtunities to take some cracking shots. Anyway theres a few pictures at the end of this blog to have a wee looks at.
As ever the boys enjoyed their run, meeting a couple of other dogs along the way and having playful ‘zoomies’ everywhere. Sharon and i also enjoyed the walk as you can,t beat a nice fresh mornings walk to waken you up for the day ahead. Its a lovely, easy little walk along this stretch of the Crouch and i guess you can park in Hullbridge somewhere and walk it from the opposite direction that we did.
With a belly full of delicious Christmas food the need for a nice walk was as its greatest so i bundled the boys in the back of the van and pointed it towards Two Tree Island. A stroll along Benfleet Creek would help shift the lethargy that follows the days of Xmas revelry thought i…….
It started of being quite misty as we set off along the pathway heading towards Benfleet Creek, but as the morning grew the sun slowly started to illuminate the sky soon there was a glorious reddy/pinky/orangey hue creeping across the skyline. Unfortunately my iPhone picture just doesn,t do the sunrise justice but at least you get an idea of what it was like.
I,ve made a small vlog of the walk so have a little look at the link below, and any others on my channel, all constructive comments are welcome on how i might improve…..
So before christmas the weather took an upward turn and the temperature went up a few degrees so i opted to take the doogles out for a nice stroll. Now i have some beautiful places to walk the boys locally but sometimes i can’t seem to make up my mind as to where to take them. After wracking my braincell for a few minutes over a latte i decided on taking them to Paglesham marina and walk down river towards Rochford. I,ve made a short video of our walk and you can find it on Youtube via the link below.
Its was a lovely couple of hours walk as the weather was fresh but comfortable with only a slight breeze, one of those days that you could just keep walking. In fact i walked the furthest along the river here than I’ve done before.
The River Roach starts around Rochford and flows nearly 10 miles, i think, before it joins the River Croach at the outer edge of Wallasea Island. Along the way Barling Creek enters into the Roach as well as the River Roach splitting off just past the marina and flowing round to Lions Creek creating Wallasea Island. The river, and in fact the surrounding area, is a wildlife haven with countless birds of prey, song birds and wetlands birds present as well foxes, rabbits, and the odd deer which all add to making a fantastic walk at any time of the year.
Myself and the boys had a lovely time walking roughly five and half miles there and back. As you can see from the pictures they got covered in mud, as usual, especially choccie who looked like he buried his head in the rivers mud. While we were walking there was some large skeins of Brent Geese flying along the river and landing in the remaining water, the tide was out, which is always lovely to see and the sound of their calling as they drop in to land is what makes winter for me. I only had my phone with me so could,t take any decent pictures but hopefully i,ll have it with me next time.
So a few weeks back the better half and i decided to chuck the pooches into the van and have a day out further up the coast, although its lovely to walk locally sometimes a change of scenery is required. The weather was due to be a bit on the cold side with overcast skies and a stiff breeze, my kind of weather. So dogs loaded in the van, sandwiches made and tucked in rucksack, boots on and we were off.
Our first port of call was St Osyth just a few miles short of Clacton. Now i used to fish St Osyth many, many moons ago with my Dad and family in search of the elusive cod, and remember the place fondly. You used to be able to drive your car onto the beach, if the sea defence gates were open, then drive along the back of the beach for a mile or so before parking up and literally fishing from the back of your car. Since then i,d heard that the shore area had been eroded quite heavily so there was now no access along the beach via vehicle. So as we pulled up at the bottom of the sea wall after driving through the holiday camp i was looking forward to seeing the changes that had taken place over the years i hand,t visited. The wind was a lot stronger than previously forecast as we donned our big coats, and it was also starting to drizzle with rain but that didn,t deter us. Up the slope and over the wall we went and yes, it really had changed a lot. There now was some large manmade rock ‘groynes’ pointing seaward, roughly every 100 hundred yards, to help slow the shores erosion and where we used to drive along the sand was now large lumps of concrete again to stop erosion. We walked along the wall until we could climb over and down onto the shore so the dogs could have a swim and a paddle. I have to say that the first few hundred yards of our walk was disgusting, old toys, household waste, mattresses and bags of rubbish and clothing lay scattered everywhere, it was a dumping ground for any old crap the nearby camp residents didn,t want. I,ve recently been told that on the outskirts of the campsite is a residential area which is unfortunately home to many low lives, and these are the ones who use the shore as their personal dumping ground. We very nearly turned round and went back to the van but carried on walking along the tide line and i,m quite happy we did really as the rubbish got less and less and the marshland got larger and larger. This meant that there was some lovely ‘splashes’ which nearly all held some ducks in hiding from the now increasing wind and rain. We walked for a mile or so i guess before giving in to the grotty weather and heading back to the van. Neither of us took any pictures as the rain was too heavy and too be honest after the initial shock of the amount of rubbish scattered around, we felt more than a little dejected. In summary, although the marsh areas were nice we won’t be going back there….
So after the awful St Osyth we had a browse on Google Earth to see where else might be worth a visit on the way home. Just down the road was Brightlingsea, somewhere i have heard about but never visited, it had to be worth a quick stop. Well what a contrast this place was, we loved it there.
After pulling into a little car park we were greeted by dozens of brightly painted beach huts which even on this cold and damp day gave a nice warm feel to the place.
We walked past the huts and onto a small promenade which then carried on up a few steps and along a sea wall which i believe went to a nature reserve. We only walked for a short distance before heading back as we had spotted a little beach hut style kiosk which served hot drinks and we both fancied a little warm up.
On the way back we had a quick look at the leaning lighthouse at the end of another small promenade. Odd looking building it was too, but i guess it was built there to guide the boats up the river in earlier times. A couple of guys were enjoying some fishing below this structure and the whole area had a nice serene, calm feel to it. After a lovely tasty, and cheap i might add, hot chocolate at the kiosk we jumped back in the van and headed to our next destination.
Wivenhoe was our next, and last, port of call before it got dark. Again it was somewhere i had heard of but not visited. Well this small village/port made up for the dodgy start to our day out, as it was truly picturesque with small traditional fishing village style houses as well as attractive new builds along the waters edge.
We only spent a short while walking along the rivers edge and exploring a few of the little side roads as darkness was falling quickly, but we loved what we saw. Everywhere was so clean with no rubbish anywhere and it felt like the residents took pride in their village too as there was beautifully kept window boxes and hanging baskets and dressed windows wherever you looked. There was a couple of old pubs along the quayside with little roads running alongside which looked like they could of been used as backdrops in a pirate movie, and the smell off home cooked roast dinners wafting from inside them was intoxicating. Walking back up the hill away from the river back to where we had parked we found a couple of quaint little restaurants as well as a lovely looking deli, obviously we didn,t go in any as we had the dogs with us, as well as more old pubs. We loved this place and will definitely be visiting again but next time we,ll make sure we have more time to sample one of the roasts we smelt mmmmmmmm…
All in all it was a nice day out which has given us a couple more places to visit in the near future………
Last week i took a little walk along the River Chelmer during my lunch break as i was working near by. I made a little vlog whist i was there so would love it if you,d take a look and give me some feedback as its my first.
As mentioned in the above vlog it was a cold foggy day and even at midday there was still frost on the ground in some areas. It was still nice to have a little walk along the river there during my lunch break, its a lovely walk along the river whether you go towards Chelmsford or head the way towards Danbury. i took a few pictures as well which I’ve added below.
I,d like to point out that i was wrong on a couple of facts about the river.
The River Chelmer runs through to Maldon and then exits into the tidal River Blackwater, not the Crouch as i mentioned.
The River Chelmer runs through to Chelmsford and then out to Felstead, not through Chelmsford and then out to Roxwell as i said, thats the River Can i believe.
In the UK there is roughly 15,000 varieties of this interesting fungi, from the larger edible species such as the Puffball and the Horse Mushroom to the lethal Death Cap. Autumn is the best time to go on the hunt for most of the different mushroom species, damp misty mornings are the best time to search. Every year i mean to go looking for mushrooms to photograph, as they come in so many sizes, shapes and colours, but as usually happens life gets in the way. This year was no different from any other but i did actually manage to get a few pictures of some whilst walking the dogs, only taken on my iPhone but i think they came out well.
These guys i found poking through the grass on the sea defence at Wallasea Island, the biggest being nearly 6 inches across. As you can see something has been having a wee nibble on one of them.
On another walk along the same river but upstream a little at Fambridge i stumbled across these beauties. The mushroom on the right doesn,t do justice to how delicate the frills were on this species as well as how yellow the centre was.
Whilst having a couple hours of early morning pike fishing i was doing my usual and having a little nosey along the bank and found these guys so had to get their pictures as well.
Another stroll with my poochies on a local field and more ‘shrooms’ were found. these ones, although pretty in their own right, didn,t look like touching them would be the smartest thing to do. They were kind of slimy looking and definitely looked unappetising, if i was on the hunt for snack that is.
I don’t know the names of any of these mushrooms but i will endeavour to learn more about them at some point. I even fancy having a go at foraging for some of the more appealing varieties so that i can cook and try them, although i am a little nervous about doing this, but i will get a guide to help me pick the right ones. I reckon thats something to mark on the ‘Things To Do’ list for next Autumn.
The year has just crept into its winter stage now with most of the leaves having fallen from the trees revealing the twisted, knotty branches which once held them firm against the strong winds we have been having this year. The lush green hew of our summer countryside has given way to the rich reds, yellows and golden browns of Autumn which themselves have now moved aside for the drab greys and dark browns of the winters pallet. The sky outside my office is a solid mid grey colour interspersed with the odd darker grey cloud, and has been for the past couple of days. Last week saw a few days of brilliant sunshine with clear blue skies which hinted at being pleasant and warm but hid the truth of mid single figure temperatures and biting cold winds. Winter is not just coming, its already here….
A lot of people at this time of year suffer from the ‘Winter Blues’, a so called condition brought on by short days and longs nights as well as the constant lack of any warm colours when you look outside the window. Not me though, i love the winter season and all that she will throw at me over the coming months. Admittedly by the end of winter even i look forward to the new beginnings that Spring brings. But during the cold, damp ‘miserable’ days of winter there is still some colour to be found before the heavy frosts set in, you just have to get out there and look for it.
The fruits of the wild rose bush, known as rose hips, provide numerous bright globes of colour against the thorny stems and branches of the leafless bush. As kids we used to break open these ‘fruits’ and use them as a torture method for whoever was closest to hand, as the furry looking seeds inside were natures very own ‘itching powder, resulting in prolonged scratching and writhing around on the floor once stuffed down the back of a mates t-shirt. Funny to watch when done to someone else, but not so funny if done to yourself. They also made your hands red and sticky as you rolled the pods in your fingers to break them open.
You also have the the dark burgundy berries of the hawthorn bush which hang down on a branch similar to a bunch of grapes on a vine. These are a favourite of wild birds and are quite often the cause of the nasty red poo stain on your car when you park near one of these bushes. These little berries have a firm outer skin with a soft inner flesh which surround a small but hard ‘stone’ inside. Squish one between your fingers and you,ll end up with a red mark for the rest of the day. Blackbirds and thrushes swarm the hawthorn bushes for these delicate little berries in the winter, i believe they may be a main staple for them to help them through the winter period.
Another of my favourites is the fruits of the Blackthorn, Sloe Berries. These thumbnail size berries are a beautiful dark blue colour on the outside and once broken open are a rich purple inside. These are another favourite of the wild birds at the start of the winter before the frosts take them. They are also picked by hand and used to make Sloe Gin and vodka, a favourite of my parents. Try not to squash any on your clothes as they stain pretty good.
I,ve been thinking about starting this blog for quiet a few years now but up until recently haven,t really been too sure as to whether anyone would actually be interested in reading, and hopefully watching, what i have to say and show. I know theres a good few blogs/sites on the internet being written by some real experts in wildlife and all things countryside related which show us so much about the wonder of our tiny isle, but i feel that i can add to the interest/information that these chaps and chappeses are already showing us. But then again i could be talking a load of cobblers, i guess we will find out over the coming months, i will try my best to post articles of interest.
Well a little about myself is in order i suppose. My names Bryan, i,m in my mid forties and currently live just outside sunny ‘Sarfend’ on sea in good old Essex. I love my fishing, wildlife photography and taking my two dogs, Paddy the Sprocker Spaniel and Choccie the Cocker Spaniel, for nice long quite peaceful walks around my local area. I,m never happier than when sitting in the middle of nowhere listening to the sounds of nature.
I,ve been interested in nature and the countryside since i was a kid and was never happier back then than when i was raging through the local fields, climbing trees and getting chased by cows.
Not a lot has changed in all those years really, i still get chased by cows now and again, and i still love to be outdoors away from the noise and ‘busyness’ that modern life seems to have evolved into. Living where i do might seem like i,m miles away from what i enjoy, the Great Outdoors as they say, but let me tell you that if you know where to look theres a lot of wildlife right round the corner and thats one of the things that has spurred me on to start this blog type thingy. When most people think of our great countryside, its beauty and the plants and creatures that live there, they generally think of the well known popularised places regularly seen on television and written about in countless books and magazines. The rugged Cornish coastline, the hills and mountains of the Lake District, The moorlands of Scotland, i could go on but you get the picture. No one thinks of the wildfowl packed estuaries of Southern Essex, or the peaceful fields of Mid Essex, theres just so much to see here and thats what i,d like to share with you all. I love finding new tucked away wildlife havens hidden between the busy towns and roads of Essex, and i,ll be visiting them when and wherever i can and posting them up here.
I hope you will enjoy reading about, watching the videos, and looking at the pictures i take along the way, i know i will enjoy it all anyway…….