Graduate freelance writer. Visit my online portfolio at www.nataliebollu.yolasite.com
Published January 14th 2016
Pirates, Smugglers and Shipwrecks Country Walk
Escape the city and enjoy the tranquillity of the Essex countryside and its beautiful rivers...
Paglesham is one of Essex's best kept secrets. This small but quaint fishing village is full of history and charm, which will make you want to keep visiting time and time again. The village is renowned for its old oyster farms, but not many will know of its interesting maritime history. Paglesham port was historically used to transport goods such as tea, gin and tobacco. The coast was ideal smuggling country, with its creeks turning to mud flats at low tide. The river Crouch that runs through the village tells tales of pirates, smugglers and best of all, shipwrecks that can still be seen in the river.
This unforgettable walk will take you through the Essex countryside, past historic buildings to the river Croach. The walk consists of 6 miles (3 hours) of very easy walking and has two pubs enroute. Follow this step-by-step guide along a pirate's pathway for an educational and relaxing walk around Paglesham.
Step 1: The best starting place is at The Punch Bowl pub and inn which can be found easily by GPS. Once you arrive, drive down the road and past the cottages to the church. Here you can park for free and start your walk. You can park at the pub for free if you use their services.
Step 2: Walk past the historic church, cottages and The Punch Bowl pub. When you reach the last house, turn right through a gate onto a paved track. Walking along the paved track you will immediately notice the peacefulness of the area and many small birds that nest in the marshes. Stay on this pathway until it becomes a grassy track close to a water pumping station. After a 5 minute walk you will come across Paglesham Creek and a small sea wall. Immediately turn right on top of the wall and follow it for 3 miles until you reach Paglesham Eastend. This part of the walk follows the beautiful river and slowly widens, where you will see boatyards in the distance on the edge of the River Crouch.
Step 3: After a relaxing walk along the river you will eventually approach the boatyard and Eastend. Here you can admire the old oyster beds that are scattered in the river and the boats sailing by. As you approach the boatyard, you will see Charles Darwin's ship and The HMS beagle shipwrecks that add to the beauty of the landscape and help you to imagine past times. These boats ended their work as static customs and excise watch vessels here on the marshes long ago. It is a good idea to bring your wellies if you would like to walk out to explore these shipwrecks in detail when the tide is low.
Paglesham was well known in the 19th century for its oyster farms. Those who were not oyster fishermen in the village, were smugglers who lived to create some very interesting tales. The most famous smuggler was named William Blyth, but was known as Hard Apple. Hard Apple was the churchwarden and the local grocer, but also a smuggler who cheated arrest twice. After winning a drinking competition, Hard Apple escaped arrest whilst the crew that were arresting him were still unconscious. Hard Apple also escaped a second time when the boat that had arrested him accidently got stuck on the sand banks. Hard Apple bargained his freedom with the crew and he helped free the boat from the dangerous marshes.
Step 4: When you reach the boatyard, turn right by the fingerpost down the steps where you will see a road. Continue up Waterside road past many historic cottages. Follow this road round to the left where the road comes out by the Plough and Sail, a charming pub that has been run by Jamie Oliver's grandparents for over 40 years. This is the perfect place to stop for a drink and lunch, especially on a cold day as it boasts a cosy interior and roaring fires. The historic building is worth taking a picture of inside and out.
The Plough and Sail - Owned by Jamie Oliver's Grandparents
Step 5: Turn right along the road and walk past beautiful cottages and houses through the S-bend. When you reach the end of the S-bend, turn right onto a footpath by the old school buildings, which are now renovated houses. This small grassy path takes you through a field where you will arrive back at the church.