Today I ventured out on my second run this week, heading down to the seafront and this time turning left to see how far it would take me. The weather couldn’t have been better for running : sunny with a cool sea-breeze.
The scenery couldn’t have been more different from that of 2 days ago, as I headed along the esplanade towards Southend. There were quite a few people about and a constant stream of traffic on the road to my left. I was testing a new sound recorder and mindful that the sound of cars wasn’t going to dominate the recording. As soon as I could I hit the beach to run on a mixture of pebbles and sand so I could be closer to the sea. It wasn’t easy – I was trying to find a non-existent stretch of firm damp, compacted sand, which can be great to run on, but which was not to be found here. Instead, the little sand there was was too soft and heavy and the pebbles also made the going hard-work and much slower.
After a while, I rejoined Thorpe Esplanade and some pretty rows of beach huts, to run on concrete again. As I headed towards Shoeburyness, there were signs saying there was no access to the beach due to military debris. I was able to get close to the sea wall and after a short while found myself entering a grassy common known as Gunners Park. This as the name would suggest, is a former military site, which is now a nature reserve maintained by the Essex Wildlife Trust.
I was able to continue my path through this park and then around the back of some swanky new developments, (presumably with private access to the beach) and then onto Shroeburyness Parade and beach, where from a distance I could see a display of kites in the sky that were attached to a group of kite surfers. This area its new beach apartments and designer beach-huts with grass roofs is surely where the money is and seemed a world apart from Southend and the mud-flats of the inner estuary.
As I continued I saw ahead of me what seemed ominously like a high military fence blocking the way ahead. As I approached, a red and white sign on the end read: DANGER: Firing Range. No Entry. As the fence dipped into the sea, it seemed to confirm not only the end of accessible land but the end of civilisation.
I decided rather than turn back immediately, that I would follow the perimeter fence to see if there was any point at which there would be a path back to the sea. I had wanted to reach a point called Foulness Island, not only because its name intrigued me but because I saw it being the outer most part of the Thames estuary as it reaches the North Sea. Unfortunately it was not to be; the perimeter fence continued for what seemed like an eternity (actually only about 2 miles), and I reached a dead end, which appeared to be another main entrance and further continuation of the MOD site beyond. I knew there would be no way in and tired, aching and hungry, I headed back towards rail station at Shoeburyness.
Back at Chalkwell Hall, I’ve been left in this big house alone for the night. With the wind up and the windows rattling, it is somewhat disconcerting. I’ll be alright but I’ve double checked the main back door is locked and I’ve put the snib down on the digi-lock at the entrance in the 1st floor, where I’m sleeping. The door to my room is also locked. Despite this, I’m not sure sure how well I’ll sleep…