Friday, 15 October 2010

Essex - with barges

From Harwich, we continued our cycle tour along the coast to Walton-on-the-Naze, from where we enjoyed a fascinating boat trip watching the wildlife of the marshlands and islands of the Hamford River
Spot the seal competition

From there it was swiftly through Frinton and Clacton and on to Brightlingsea, which still has a working harbour, with very active Harbour Commissioners who also run a foot ferry across to Mersea Island. I'm a sucker for any sort of scheduled transport, but particularly enjoy using these little ferries, especially when they  run to offshore islands such as Mersea (although whether its strictly an island any more is debatable as its joined to the mainland by a substantial causeway at the western end.

Landing on Mersea Island off the Brightlingsea ferry
The penultimate night of the holiday was spent at Maldon where, next morning we came across this magnificent array of Thames sailing barges at The Hythe

Many of them still earn their keep as commercial craft, although the cargo these days is passengers rather than freight. It made a fitting end to our tour of what turned out to be a surprisingly rural, interesting and attractive county. The train journey home went without a hitch (we even managed to make a three-minute connection at Newport!) and now, after a few days at home I'm getting ready to take Starcross out for a fortnight or so, heading north towards Manchester, before returning for Norbury Wharf's annual open day and "end-of-season" (what season?) boaters' party at the end of the month. It's a grand life being retired - I think I could take to it.

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