When Peter Caton set out to walk the Essex coast he had no idea of the beauty, wildlife and stories that he would find on the way. He takes the reader up and down the many creeks and estuaries of the longest coastline of any English county, through nature reserves, seaside resorts, unspoilt villages, sailing centres and alongside industry past and present. On the way we read of tales of witchcraft, ghosts, smuggling, bigamy and incest. We learn of the county’s varied history – stories of battles with Vikings, of invading Romans bringing elephants, a fort where the only casualty occurred in a cricket match, burning Zeppelins and of Jack the Ripper.
Whilst a narrative, not a guidebook, Essex Coast Walk contains a wealth of information, including many little-known facts and stories. With gentle humour to match the coastline’s gentle beauty, and illustrated with photographs and maps, the book makes for easy reading.
It tells of the solitude of the most remote coastal areas in England and of the huge range of wildlife to be found here. In contrast we read of the docks and industry of the Thames, but find that even here there is beauty for those willing to look.
The book highlights how climate change may alter our coast and looks at new methods of coping with rising sea levels. It tells us how tiny settlements grew into large holiday resorts and how other villages have remained as unspoilt and isolated communities.
Travelling to and from each walk by public transport gave Peter an insight into the county’s rural buses and trains, and allowed him to meet more of its interesting people on the way. He aimed to show that environmentally friendly travel to such sparsely populated areas is still possible and his experiences make enlightening reading.
The author’s thought provoking final reflections consider how the coast has changed over the centuries and what its future may be.
A contribution from the sale of each book is made to Essex Wildlife Trust.