I now had three days walking to reach Southend with two nights wild camping.
After a delicious breakfast at Roy’s cooked by Julia and Kay I set off, albeit in the rain. However this soon cleared and I was following the Crouch and it’s numerous creeks once again. There was a definite shortage of places to eat on the way but I’d spotted a garden centre so tried the cafe there for lunch. So had, apparently, half the pensioners of Essex. I was told there weren’t any free tables but I could have a ’bleeper’ to tell me when a table was free. It was a small box with a few lights on it. I placed it beside me and took some welcome rest in a nearby chair.
When the sleeper sprang into life it buzzed frantically and it’s lights were bright and coloured enough for it to be used on the set of Saturday night fever. Unfortunately no one was there to turn it off so I sat on my taable with my instant epilepsy test flashing and quivering.
The meal was good and I contentedly set off across the Essex countryside.
I was walking down a narrow path when I was confronted by two black Alsatian-style dogs. The leader was very unhappy and there was a lot of teeth baring and snarling going on. After a few minutes I realised no one was walking with them and they must belong to a nearby house or farm. As they showed no sign of moving I stepped forward. Cue more growling and snarling. i didn’t fancy spending an afternoon with these two until their owners came for them so I decided on a new plan.
My rucksack has a whistle attached to sound a distress call if you get into trouble. I gave three blasts on that. The dogs didnt like it and backed away. I carried on up the path driving the dogs ahead by whistle blasts despite the snarls and growls of protestation.
The next problem was that the lane came out on a road. The dogs disliked cars and turned their attention to them rather than me. This wasn’t a good thing as they caused a couple of violent swerves from passing vehicles. I wondered if I could lure or drive them off the road.
When I spoke to them it seemed to work to a degree as the lead dog returned to snarling at me.
It was then the police car arrived. someone had phoned and he was nearby luckily. He set about stopping the traffic and calling for reinforcements leaving me to continue trying to move the dogs away.
A few minutes later another car arrive with a WPC and a slightly nervous younger policeman carrying what looked like miniature riot shields presumably for dog control.
The WPC was clearly a dog lover and spotted something I hadn’t. I’d been too busy dealing with the growling dog to notice the other one was definitely female and had had pups recently.
Neither dog had a collar and both looked scruffy and muddy. She felt the pups could be nearby she went off to find them while I distracted the dogs .
I had a brainwave and carefully opening my rucksack and got out a pack of cheese slices. I then proceeded to feed this in scraps to the dogs who were both hungry.
I even got them feeding off my hand albeit very gingerly , both me and the dogs.
Seeing this the policeman decided to let the backed up traffic through. Unfortunately this set the dog off again and I got a bite on either leg for my troubles. Luckily the dog was far more frightened than aggressive so the bites whilst ripping one trouser leg didn’t do much damage.
The policeman deployed his anti dog shields to get them away from me. The WPC returned with no sign of any pups. A proper dog control team had been sent for.
She agreed with me that the dogs were frightened more than aggressive and I gave her the rest of my processed cheese slices to help pacify then until they could be secured.
You can see her in the photographs sitting with them well away from any traffic.
I set off for my campsite, slightly sore and a bit behind time.
When I arrived at dusk the one bite on my right leg felt a bit sore. I pitched tent and in the dusk removed my trousers and tried to look round the back of my leg at the bite. I did this outside the tent as I didn’t fancy tying myself in knots inside the tent.
All looked well but I’d just given myself a new problem. The dog bites were just scratches and would cause me no real trouble however the half dozen mosquito bites I picked up when I removed my trousers itched for days afterwards.
I still slept well after an interesting day.