Weather makes all the difference to the enjoyment of a walk and for this month’s walk it was perfect. Setting out on a circular route from The Star in Steeple we took a footpath north that first passed through a small wooded area and then led onto open farmland. Already the winter crops had good growth and the shoots were glowing green in the sunlight. Leaving the crops we followed a wide grassy track, passing a pond on our right, and after crossing another field reached the seawall.
We climbed the landward side of the sea wall quietly and in anticipation, because the day before when I arrived at the top I had startled a large flock of Brent Geese on the seaward side and sent them chattering into the sky – a wonderful sight; however on this occasion we could see none at first but then picked out a mass of dark heads poking above the vegetation on the nearby saltings – 50 or more Brent Geese – apparently not alarmed by our presence. Today was a bonanza for bird watchers, for we sighted at least 16 species and I estimated a total of around 1000 birds, most feeding on the exposed mud flats.
Looking to the northeast Stansgate Abbey could be glimpsed. It was founded as a Priory by the Cluniac Order in 1120 and dissolved by Henry V111 in 1525 to help pay for the construction of Christchurch College, Oxford. The last remains of the Priory (which stood in the grounds of Stansgate Abbey Farm) were destroyed in 1922. The farm has belonged to the Benn political family since 1900.
Osea Island lay to the north and was, so I read, a coastal motor torpedo boat base during WW1 with two thousand sailors being billeted there.
Crossing several stiles we walked west to Mayland Creek and followed it south. Normally this is a solitary place at this time of year, but being school holidays families from the Steeple Bay Holiday Park were ‘airing’ their children. We joined the St Peter’s Way, turned east and followed it back to Steeple.
In The Street at Steeple stands the church of St Lawrence and All Saints, built in 1884. The walls have an unusual patchwork appearance, apparently because they were built partly with contemporary brickwork and partly with materials from a demolished mediaeval church that used to stand nearby.
The 7kms/4.4 mile walk ended with lunch in the Star.
Next walk (4th Tuesday monthly)
November 25th Meet 10.00 outside Blackwater Bistro, Maylandsea 6.5kms/4miles