It is over three years since I last visited the coast of this small island. The first 30 plus years of my life I lived in Yorkshire, which has almost 50 miles of stunning coastline, from rugged high cliffs to stretches of flat, golden sand. A trip to the coast for sea air, refreshing breezes, and a fish and chip supper, was something we could do on a regular basis.
For the last 25 years I have lived in the centre of England. It is almost equidistant to the west, the east and the south coast, involving a journey, by car, of 2, 3 or 4 hours, depending on the traffic.
Last week I decided it was time for me to visit the sea again.
So come with me, and enjoy the first blog of four, called "Sea and sky."
It was only just after 10 o'clock in the morning when I finally arrived at the coast. I'd headed east and arrived at a small seaside location called "Walton on Naze".
The name Walton is an ancient name meaning 'farmstead or village of the Britons.
The Naze is an area north of the town and is important for migrating birds. There is also a small nature reserve.
On the cliff top at the Naze is an Hanoverian tower, 112 feet high, more commonly known as the 'Naze Tower', which was built as a sea-mark to assist ships on this otherwise fairly flat and featureless coast.
It was built in 1720-21 to guide ships along the coast and into the port of Harwich. Originally it had a beacon on top, which made it an early form of lighthouse.
Over the years it has had a variety of uses. In the 18th century it was a teahouse, run by a famous actress, Martha Raey. It was used as a lookout during the Napoleonic wars and again during the First World War, 1914 1918. During the Second World War it was used as a radar station. It has been in private ownership since 1986.
The rapidly eroding east coast of Great Britain is threatening the tower and the wildlife reserve.
Over the last 15 years they have put in place a seawall, groynes and millions of tons of sand has been added to the beach to replenish it to try to stop the sandy cliffs from eroding.
However, nature is winning, and the sea is encroaching on the land by about 2 yards a year. Within 50 years the Naze Tower, which has stood for 300 years, will have tumbled into the sea.
one of the many groynes that have been built along the flat coast.
Situated off the coast is the world's largest offshore wind farm. 217 turbines have been positioned 12 miles off the coast, producing enough electricity for three quarters of a million homes.
In the middle of the 19th century, when trains became far more popular,Eastern Union Railway built a track right down to the sea at Harwich. From there, ferries would transport the passengers across to continental Europe. My thanks to the super-zoom camera for this and the next image. Harwich was five miles further north and the ship a speck on the horizon!
Today the port is used as a docking for cruise ships, and bulk cargoes which arrive from all over the world!
As I stood on the cliff tops looking out across the North Sea towards Europe, I watched several of the Thames sailing barges go past. They are distinctive with their red ochre sails. They were common in the 19th century when they went up and down the Thames. They have a flat bottomed hull, which was perfectly designed for the shallow waters of The Thames.
At the beginning of the 20th century over 2000 of these barges were on the London registry. Today a small number of sailing barges have been converted into pleasurecraft and take tourists on a cruise around the Essex coast.
On my second day I went back to the coast and spent a very pleasurable hour halfway down the cliff at the Naze, watching the starlings.
Right along the coast, hardy shrubs have been planted to help protect the sand cliffs behind. There are hundreds of bramble shrubs, which as I watched, became resting places for the European starlings.
They would arrive from inland and settle on the shrubs looking out to sea. Then slowly, one by one, small flocks would lift up and set out across the North Sea to Europe, where they will overwinter. Their British cousins will stay behind and winter in England. Although they are the same species, the starling population in the UK triples every summer, when huge flocks arrive from the continent.
Over the next few weeks I will post more photos (but they do take time to edit and post to WU), so I am splitting it into four blogs.
Blog 2 will be will be "John Constable", (oh, I loved this part!)
, blog 3 "Beth Chatto" gardens, and finally blog 4 will be the left overs, which i am calling "Quaint Britian" :)
Office Depot Coupon
LOCAL AIRPORT (25 miles away)
MILTON KEYNES City Centre
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