15 men plus 1 dog set off last Sunday in hot temperatures but with a light breeze around. 11 Londoners were joined by 3 men from Essex. Marco, brand new member, was on his first GOC walk and we welcomed him to the club.
First we climbed steeply to enter the attractive Hadleigh Castle country park, where there are stupendous views over the whole Thames Estuary including Canvey Island and the Kent shore. We stopped at the ruined 1270's castle built in the reign of Edward III, which was a defensive castle commanding the whole Thames Estuary from invasion. There was a matching castle on the Kent side.
On leaving the country park we descended to the estuary path at Leigh-on-Sea and remained at sea level for the rest of the day. Leigh has retained a real fishing village feel and was the designated lunch stop. Most of the group are their packed lunches sitting on some handy benches, while a few opted for rather gourmet fish and chips. Some visited one of other of the pubs (Leigh has four), one of which unusually served home-made crisps. As we set off after lunch we saw the Endeavour, a Leigh cockle boat. which had been one of the gallant little boats involved in the 1940 Dunkirk rescue.
Although there was a breeze it was hot and some of the party wistfully looked at the sea - however this remained a very long way out over mudflats for most of the day. The beach side promenade was unsurprisingly busy on such a beautiful day and became frenetic along Southend on Sea's "Golden Mile" with thousands enjoying the sunshine and fairground rides. Many bare chested men were seen...some pretty fit....others a little lardy!! (They clearly need to go on GOC walks to lose that flab)!!
As we proceeded further east towards Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness, the crowds thinned out markedly - this section is mainly residential with just a few hotels. We reached the beach front end at Shoeburyness about 5.15pm. We were happy but pretty tired as although flat it is quite a long walk in such heat. Most of the party rewarded themselves with ice creams or drinks at the adjacent café.
The official walk now over, most of the party then left to catch the train back to London. By now though the tide had come in and 3 intrepid members donned their Speedos and swam in lovely temperature water, being gently brushed, even tickled by the friendly seaweed which here is rather like a hair wig not the ribbon type found elsewhere. Later th 3 swimmers ate at an Italian restaurant where we had some excellent food and much deserved (we thought) beer.
All agreed a very pleasant walk along the seaside.