READERS MAY have read my earlier posts about the Broomway, that fabled old byway, and its surrounding areas in my articles titled 'A Closer Look at Foulness Island', 'Broomway' or 'Islands And Creeks'. I have sailed over the Broomway on many occasions in two to four feet of water and over the years have walked parts of it at low tide, never completing the full length from Wakering Stairs to Fisherman's Head. Until now that is. Although there is nothing new about the road as it has been a means of access to Foulness Island for centuries, possibly even being used by the Romans but what I have found from my sea rambling along the fringes of the East Coast in my small boat or my walks when clad in mud or ramblers boots is this stretch of coast evokes something more than just an appreciation of the wild and open spaces - far more for when alone on these vast planes one can become engulfed in the surrounding natural beauty. Wild, open spaces like the Maplin Sands give one an awareness of our total insignificance in the wider planet, something that the cruising sailor would already have a sound grasp of, and are, with their mile after mile of baron emptiness, a truly pure place where ones thoughts can run amok. For anybody who is yet to experience one of the great attractions of going to sea alone in a small boat then a very close simili can be gleaned here on foot in this wet-sand desert,
There are two sea-forts visible miles away to the east, in the Thames Estuary, and gunning lookout towers are clearly visible along the shore of Foulness Island, so at the same time it is places like the Maplins that can show how we, 'mankind', can so easily do harm to it. Is it not surprising then that I should choose to walk the Broomway alone? Not a very clever thing to do perhaps as the sands are fraught with danger and lives have been lost. But then perhaps neither is sailing a small boat along here during complete darkness at night alone working along the sands into gusting force winds and an erratic sea. A calculated risk it is, no different than running for a bus on a busy road or walking the seawalls at midnight in the foggy mists where the legends of ghosts run riot. But here is where a closeness to nature and adventure can be found on our doorstep.
|The evocative magic of the Broomway|
For those that asked if I will be making the walk again the answer is yes I have already, the allure of the sands is all to much to resist, and will be back over the coming months.
|Walking on the hard into Fishermans Head, Foulness Island|