Rochford-Paglesham Eastend Essex
Friday June 1st 2018
Our second day of walking, this time north of the River Roach. The Roach is one of several rivers in Essex which we will have to follow in and out to find the crossing point nearest the sea. Having had a good night at the Rochford Hotel and eaten a hearty breakfast, we were ready to set off at 8.30. We checked out, stowed our large bags in the office again and began the walk. We had actually crossed the Roach yesterday as we walked in so we were already on the northern side.
The beginning of the walk took us through the streets of the centre of Rochford which has a many beautiful weather boarded houses and small shops.
It is a small, slightly run-down place now but in the past it thrived as a market town and as the most important settlement in the area. One of the guidebooks mentions that it had been a busy town when Southend was just a fishing hamlet. In latter years, many of the inhabitants worked at the Matchbox car factory. The company name was Lesney, named for its two founders Leslie and Rodney Smith and at its height it employed 2000 people working 24 hours a day to produce the little cars. Now many people work at Southend airport, whose runways reach the outskirts of the town, in Southend and even commute to London daily.
We headed up West Street, across North Street and into East Street before turning into Rocheway. A gate at the end of Rocheway brought us out into countryside and a well-marked path through a wheat field. It was very humid, misty and warm and we were hoping things would improve as the day went on. It did not clear properly until lunchtime and, for some reason, my camera had set itself to taking square pictures so today’s photos are somewhat square and hazy
At the end of this path was a quiet lane and another path visible opposite. At this point we picked up the Roach Valley Way which had taken a different route out of Rochford.
We passed a fishing lake and came out at Stambridge Mills onto a cricket pitch. Also here is Broonmhills, an old people’s home on the edge of the river with some great views of the cricket when Rochford Cricket club are playing at home.
A short track then took us to the riverbank and a view looking back at a boatyard at the end of the industrial site.
The riverbank path had a very familiar feel to it; a narrow track on top of an embankment. This one was enlivened every now and then by the sudden appearance through the low cloud of Ryanair planes coming in to land at Southend Airport!
We passed a couple of industrial sites just inland before locating a flat piece of grass for a sit down and a drink. The river itself was silent apart from birds. The tide was out and there was no activity on the water.
After a couple of miles we walked part of the way around Bartonhall Creek, named for the large house at the head of the water. It really is not so pleasant here when the tide is out, sadly.
Here we dropped down from the bank onto a paved road which passed Bartonhall Cottages which have a number of interesting outbuildings and house a repair centre for classic cars.
The path then then swung north and we found a place to sit down under a tree. The humidity of the early morning was retreating and the sun had come out so a shady tree was welcome. Soon after we resumed the walk, we came to a lake which was actually an inlet of the river which had been dammed to provide a salty wildlife habitat. It was full of birds, but we are not good with birds and could only recognise swans and geese! There was a large family of goslings though and we heard a cuckoo! This was the first time for many years we had heard one and it was a lovely sound.
At the end of the lake, the path on the map did a strange and very short left then right detour. However the path on the ground did not, and a sign on a post here was ambiguous. We tried to find way through but in the end decided that the in and out bit must just join the path we could see stretching in front of us so we headed for it! I don’t very often use my phone as GPS but for the next bit I did as the path ahead was not too clear and we were walking on the edge of fields sown with crops. The GPS showed us to be on the right path although we did once go through a gap in a high hawthorn hedge and end up in the wrong field. A quick back track put us right and the hedge ended at the entrance to a house as we expected it too. The drive to the house came off the road at South Hall Farm which was deserted apart from a man filling a tractor with fuel.
The final leg of the walk was mile or so along a lane into the tiny village of Paglesham Eastend. The road was lined with beautiful houses, all different and all picturesque in their in way. Some were massive and some tiny cottages but all lovely. We passed a corrugated iron mission hall and ended up at the at The Plough and Sail pub. This is the end of the road. It goes nowhere else but amazingly it has a bus service.
We arrived at quarter past one, had a drink at the pub and used the loo but decided that we were not hungry enough to pay a lot of money for a fancy sandwich especially as we had stocked up on food before we started. So after the drink we had a go at walking down to the river but time was a bit short and as the buses are only every two hours we did not want to miss one. So we sat outside the pub chatting and watching the occasional car drive in and out. Suddenly a car which had taken off speedily down the road came slowly backwards pursued by a bus! After a difficult turn the bus opened his doors and we climbed aboard. Back in Rochford we collected our belongings and began the journey home.