Heybridge Basin Circular Walk
This was a circular walk of about seven miles, on a grey early March Saturday. We started at Heybridge Basin car park, then walked along the canal towards the sea lock, passing a fibreglass zoo in a garden. At the lock the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation has access to the Blackwater Estuary and, as usual when Maz and I come here, the tide was on its way out. Heybridge Basin has a picturesque waterfront with 18th and early 19th century houses and pubs, a nice café, and the canal with a large variety of boats, large and small.
After getting many of the sixteen EFOGers out of the café, we crossed the sea lock to walk along the seawall towards Maldon. On the left was the River Blackwater and marshes. On the right, flooded gravel pits that are now a nature reserve. Usually it is covered with birds, but this time they must have been visiting the mud flats that were rapidly being uncovered. As we rounded the seawall there was a good view of Maldon and its barges moored along the wharf.
Approaching Maldon’s outskirts there were mud banks on either side of us, before we had to pass through a light industrial estate to get to the main road. This is not the most pleasant part of Maldon but we needed to get to the River Chelmer, about half a mile up the road towards the town centre.
We crossed the Chelmer at Fullbridge to walk alongside the river towards Beeleigh Falls, and then the sun came out. This path was very muddy, but had pleasant views across the river. We went under the A414 bridge, and got away from the mud and riverside by walking uphill to a path - once a lane - that ran parallel to the river. Eventually we came across a patch of grass, and there were cries for a lunch stop.
This happened to be opposite Beeleigh Abbey, once a White Canons monastery until the dissolution by Henry VIII. In 1948 the Abbey was purchased by the Foyles bookshop family, and it is now a private residence.
Not far from here we crossed the bridge at Beeleigh Falls, an elaborate system of weirs controlling the rivers Chelmer and Blackwater where they meet the sea. We met up again with the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation to walk back to Heybridge Basin, and of course the café.
Peter G., 5th March 2019