Not being able to work at the beginning of this week due to my van being in the garage for a service I decided to pinch the other half car and take myself and the boys of for a day out somewhere. After wracking my brain cell for an hour over my mornings coffee I decided on a return trip to Tollesbury Wick, but once I had actually driven there and parked up by the marshes I just didn’t ‘FEEL IT’ so a plan B was needed. After trolling through the net I found a wee map of the local area and found that a couple of miles away was another marshland area similar to the wick with a nice six and half mile trail around it. I turned around the car around and off I drove to Old Hall Marshes, just round the corner really.
Driving down the rough track that takes you to the marshes made me wonder if I had taken the right route but it was not long until I pulled into the tiny car park for Old Hall Marshes. Reading the sign board I studied the map and found that there was a route that lead around the entire marshland are so that was the route I would take.
This is some of the blurb from the RSPB site. Old Hall Marshes is maintained by the RSPB and comprises fo extensive grazing marshes with brackish water fleets, seedbeds, salt marsh and 2 off shore islands. Breeding bird species include Avocet, Lapwing, Redshank, Pochard, Shoveler and Bearded Tit. Also during migration, Marsh Harriers, Wheatears, Whinchats and waders can also be seen as well numerous species of duck and geese.
Setting off from the car park I wandered along a pathway that ran around a few fields before coming to some wooden steps that take you to the top of the sea defence where you can see, what I believe to be, Salcott Channel and some marshland. Turning right at the top of the steps I followed the track along the channel watching a couple of trawlers working further over towards the opposite bank. Further along there was a windmill type structure further inland which I had a quick walk towards to take a couple of pictures before carrying along on my way towards the mouth of the channel.
It was not too long before I was walking opposite West Mersea Island and looking back up the Mersea Channel I could just see a few cars driving over The Strood, the crossing that leads from the mainland onto the island itself. The skies were blue and the sun was bright at this point and the boats that were moored further towards Mersea were glistening in the sun.
Carrying on along the top of the sea defence I soon came to a couple of people building more wooden steps from the marshlands to the top of wall. I did not take any pictures as most people don’t like it. Also further along there was a some diggers reshaping the sea wall as well. It was past these machines that I decided to stop and make myself a brew whilst looking across the River Blackwater towards Bradwell and its power station. It was actually really pleasant sitting on the concrete blocks on the seaward side of the wall with the warm wind blowing into my face as I drunk the freshly made latte and watched the birdlife fly by. The boys enjoyed their relax time too, especially Choccy as he sat with his head held high, nose in the wind and ears flapping.
Once Tiffin had been partaken we continued on our way along the pathway, the wind by now was getting a fair bit heavier and it had turned warm enough for me to take off my light jacket. Along the way I watched as numerous sea birds went about their business and I’m pretty sure, but not 100 percent, that I saw a Marsh Harrier drifting off across the marshland back towards the Salcott Channel. It was bigger than a Kestrel but not as big as a Buzzard, and its wing shape was different anyway. What I did notice along the tideline was hall a dozen or so bird carcasses, washed up in the weed line. I think a few were geese, but there were definitely some seagulls too. Maybe casualties of the recent Bird Flu outbreak.
Within a short time the pathway turned inland and the River Blackwater gave way to Tollesbury Fleet and numerous marshy plateaux interspersed with watery creeks. I love this type of marshland as there is usually lots of wildfowl hiding in the little creeks that run between the grassy marshlands and it is easier to carefully sneak within a good distance to watch them feed, drift around etc without them seeing you. Although its not easy to do such with 2 maniac dogs running up and down the sea wall. It was not too long before the track headed back inland and taking me back to the car and finishing our 6.5 mile ramble around the marshlands of OLD HALL MARSHES.
As mentioned the route I took was just under 6.5 miles long and ran around the whole of the marshes, but there are 2 shorter routes I believe if you did not fancy walking that distance. I have recorded the trek on my KOMOOT hiking account so if you would like to view the exact route and details of this walk then click the link HERE.
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk but, for me anyway, I think it would off been better later in the winter period when the wind is blowing cold and the skies are grey as thats when I find it best to watch the wildfowl go about their business. I will return later in the year thats for sure.