Day 328: Paglesham to Leigh-on-Sea
Distance: 26.26 miles
Ascent: 759 feet
Weather: Light Rain Morning, Overcast But Dry Afternoon
Accommodation: Joey & Shaun’s House (Kindly Offered)
It had been a very still night and though I had been worried about the large tent being cold, a mixture of it being a milder night and the thick duvets meant we had both been very warm in the tent. It was raining lightly as I left not long after 7 and Hannah was kindly going to pack the tent away and meet me later.
The start of the day was quite similar to previous days once I was back on River Roach following the embankments for about 6 miles up to the edge of Rochford. This next little part had worried me a bit, wondering if the footbridge existed and whether I could get through the industrial units and to the road, but I needn’t have worried as I got through very easily.
The next 9 miles or so until I would rejoin the coast proper at Shoeburyness were in fact some of the hardest to plan of the whole walk. There was no ideal option, with water, farms, military firing ranges just making for many obsatcles and no real ‘coastal’ route. Anyway, I started along a country road before taking a bridleway that eventually after passing Mucking Hall hit an embankment. I actually detoured of this slightly and back down to the church in Barling where I met Hannah again, and together we did a little loop along the sea wall, around the small private airstrip and back to the other end of Barling. I left Hannah again here who would drive to the end point (Leigh-on-Sea) and then train back to Shoeburyness where we would meet again.
The stretch from Barling to Shoeburyness was the complete mind boggle in planning. But my chosen route seemed to work following the edge of the creek until I hit the military range and then I followed a path literally along the side of the range until reaching the outskirts of Shoeburyness. This stretch maybe hadn’t felt coastal but I think it is as close to the coast as I could get.
At Shoeburyness there were maybe 20 kitesurfers out and 2 of them were even using hydrofoil boards which looked cool but felt like a maybe pointless add on, as with the kite you already feel like you’re flying anyway. I bumped into Hannah again here and from here to the end (maybe 7 miles) it would be promenade all the way. We actually stopped in a Harvester, which must be my first time in 20 years but I was glad for a massive, cheap feast.
This area was very significant on the walk, being my first sight of the Thames and on looking over the other side I could see places I had walked 325 days ago, and it made me slightly emotional. Anyway we made good progress along the promenade slowly approaching the extremely long pier at Southend which boasts it is the longest pleasure pier in the world. We actually went up in a glass lift near the pier to get a good photo of the pier before we continued along the promenade as the sun slowly set.
It was actually pretty much dark by the time we were approaching Leigh and I was really tired. For the first time in a while due to exhaustion I was starting to do the slightly drunk walking where I can’t quite keep myself in a straight line and a couple of times accidentally walked lightly into the sea wall. So I was extremely grateful to get to Leigh-on-Sea and my friends Joey & Shaun who were kindly putting me up for my rest day.
It had been great having Hannah on the walk and we said our goodbyes before I had a chill in the house. Joey and Shaun turned up later with little Chip and kindly made a lovely dinner before we all chilled in front of the TV before heading to bed quite early.
A long, tiring day but amazing/emotional to have reached the Thames.