I left Mersea island once again at low tide and retraced my steps to Peldon where sadly the Plough was shut at 10:30am.
Outside Peldon I came upon something very exciting, a forty foot high elm tree, for a short while I thought i’d found some elms resistant to Dutch elm disease but my phone told me they were Siberian or dwarf elms. I came across more some up to sixty feet tall. Not as big as the great elms that used to cover Gloucestershire but still they were elms. I was pleased I could identify a full sized elm having not seen one at home for about fifty years.
The path led me across farmland and with glorious inevitability the signs ended as I approached a cluster of farm buildings. My sat nav led me through the buildings, past numerous bits of farm machinery and pens of noisy young pigs.
Two farm dogs were less than welcoming as was the farmer when she appeared.
“The path doesn’t run through the farm anymore”, she said crossly, “we had it diverted”
I apologised and pointed out there were no signs directing me.
“Of course there are” she said , pointing down the drive in the direction I was heading.
“But I came from back there, there wasn’t amy sign”
“ that’s not our field”
“But you could have put a sign on your gate “ , I suggested.
“We had the path diverted, it’s the councils job to put up signs” she retorted.
I shook my head gently and carried on my way.
I reached Old Hall marshes where I bumped into Peter who was looking for Marsh Harriers. We easily fell into conversation and set off around the marsh. Despite some lovely views the marsh was apparently devoid of marsh harriers. In fact the marsh was devoid of water in places whether due to drainage repairs or the drought we weren’t sure.
Just as we were about to go our separate ways Peter spotted a movement and we finally saw our golden headed quarry flying along a hedge. Satisfied with this I carried on to Tollesbury.
I bumped into a group of youngsters when I arrived and for the first time I was complemented on my choice of clothes.
“That’s an Arcteryx jacket, good they are”
I also got given the name of tea room I could go to next day on the way to Maldon.
I then visited the King’s Head where not only were there delicious burgers but beer at £2 a pint and Tollesbury’s annual “cake off” where locals baked cakes and were judged.
I joined in the fun when the judges released their comments. My favourite was from one aggrieved baker , “they said my cake was over baked, it wasn’t as burnt as last time”.
From there I made my way out onto the marshes for a wild camp.