Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Broomway

The Broomway - an ancient track and byway which at one time was used frequently by local farmers and inhabitants of Foulness Island. Other than by boat this was the only route onto the Heads of the close group of small islands that make up this remote corner of Essex, an area that remains largely unchanged even today. The Havengore Bridge, which is manned by the MOD, is the route on to the island today but you will need an appointment to visit as this whole area has restricted access due to the MOD who use it as a firing range.
Wakering Stairs is the start of the Broomway and takes you out across the Maplin Sands heading north to Foulness Island. The very nature of the wide expanse of level mudflats means the tide comes in from afar very quick here and it is said lives have been lost by people using the track and being caught out by the flooding tide. A shortcut if conditions are right, used by sailors from the south heading into the River Roach or Crouch, or if heading south to the Medway or Thames, is to cross these shallow sands at around high water which can save a long passage out on the main of around 15 miles. 
For obvious reasons the bridge is not in operation while firing is taking place so check prior to trying to get through here in a boat.

Wakering Stairs, at the start of the Broomway

The Broomway runs parallel to the seawall out on the sands

The wide expanse of the Maplin Sands evoke mystery and calm

Follow the sand patterns south to The Isle of Sheppy on the horizon 

Havengore Bridge. Viewed facing west in Havengore Creek

Shivering Sands - WW11 towers just visible out on the Thames Estuary

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