21st September 2017: Essex Way stage 10, Wrabness to Harwich Town

Eight Red Rope Thursday walkers made this a celebratory project ending the walk in mild temperatures with some golden sunshine among scudding clouds. Our eight miles started on the banks of the Stour estuary with good views across to Holbrook. We crossed the peninsula so that six miles later we were walking on Dovercourt promenade with its lighthouses on stilts. On the way we traversed paths through Copperas Woods and broad fields to the windmill outside Ramsey. This was the last village before our terminal town so we honoured The Castle pub with a late morning drinking stop. Then we crossed a scrubby, nettled copse to reach more broad fields to find a sheltered cabbage patch for our picnic lunch. Making towards marshes and the open sea, we walked along the top of sea defences to reach Dovercourt shoreline with its stately rows of beach huts. Two spider-like lighthouses stood up on stilts, aligned near-and-far to guide ships into the harbour. The lively sea, almost sending surf over the wall, inspired Joanna to hare up the stairway of the nearer lighthouse. One mile further on, now on the final Harwich stretch, we passed a treadmill operated crane, then another pair of lighthouses which were replaced by the Victorian ones when the sea lanes changed course. Strictly, the High Lighthouse marks the end of the Way, but we trekked a final half-mile through a corner of the old town,

passing lifeboat museum, navy shipyard (started by Henry VIII), and 18th C houses to “the Ha’penny Pier”. Here the advertised pier teashop was thankfully still operational and we conducted our completion tea party sedately. Alongside the quay the little yellow ferry appeared from the Felixtowe side of the estuary reminding us how modern transport systems have reduced, but not quite suppressed, the old ones. It was agreed that a further celebration would take place the next week at a pot luck lunch in Blackheath. Here we will plan our next Thursday project.

Steve Butters​
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