From its source in the Cotswolds to its estuarine mouth dissecting Essex and Kent, the River Thames meanders through over 350 km (210 miles) of the heart of southern England. It is one of the iconic features of the British landscape. And because of this, I feel I should be more familiar with it. But I’m not; I probably know no more than 15 km (just under 10 miles) of its most familiar stretch through London. Last weekend I had the opportunity to explore another tiny fragment in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex near where the Thames finally merges with the North Sea.
Wandering through the narrow streets of the old town and along the sea wall path, I was immediately struck how familiar much of it felt to me, even though I’d never visited before. The saltmarsh, mudflats, fishing huts and big skies reminded me of many parts of the north Norfolk coast, the part of the country where I grew up. This type of wild coast has always appealed to me. Its understated, expansive, wild and a haven for wildlife. I walked along the seawall towards Southend, as the tide was coming in. The rising water embracing the moored yachts and freeing them from the estuarine mud. Further out into the deep channel a merchant ship made its way up stream. Despite the busy pedestrian to-ing and fro-ing along the sea wall, I felt an immense sense of quiet and calm as I looked out. Rivers and the sea, do that for me.
Week 30’s recipient is Susan Cross. Susan is one of the UK’s leading interpretation practitioners and I was lucky enough to work with her for several years. You can find out more about Susan and her work at her website, Telltale.