D=Anchor Pub E=Up River YC G=Recreation Park H=Hullbridge YC J=Brandy Hole YC
I invite you to join me on a virtual walk beside the River Crouch at Hullbridge, Essex, UK. It’s Wednesday, 9th November, 2011, and the time is about 1600. Having parked the car at the Hullbridge public car park we stroll past the Anchor public house towards the Ferry Road slipway. The sky is clear overhead; the air is damp and it’s a dead calm. A flotilla of swans moves slowly upstream by the Up River Yacht Club’s slipway. Apart from these graceful creatures we have the place to ourselves.
We turn east and pass through a narrow, leafy way with arching trees overhead. To our left between the foliage we have glimpses of a few yachts that remain on their moorings, and to our right, hidden behind a high privet hedge, there are the laid-up yachts of the Up River Yacht Club. As we progress, views open, and we can see the expanse of the river towards Hullbridge Yacht Club. Across the water, we observe the buildings of Marsh Farm and a lone runner who jogs towards South Woodham Ferrers Yacht Club.
Along here there are bramble bushes
Progressing, we crunch our way along a gravel path that borders a large compound which is packed with caravan homes;* at the far end, before the Recreation Park, bramble bushes restrict our view. Light is fading and a full moon slowly lifts above the horizon. A couple of dog walkers have fun playing the age-old game of throwing a ball for their dog to retrieve. Their terrier wags his tail in anticipation, and even before the ball has been thrown, he scampers off in search of the missile.
At the far end of the park, the path is covered with Asphalt, and a flood defence barrier runs beside it. Immediately joining the park we come across the Hullbridge Yacht Club where only a handful of yachts are laid-up. Years ago, the Club’s grounds would have been crammed with boats. I suspect the current owners may have a new agenda. Much of the waterside beyond the club has been developed by the building of luxury homes, complete with pile moorings, and the club would be prime land for similar properties, if planning permission could be obtained.
We continue our walk past a line of tall poplar trees, the rendezvous of millions of migratory starlings, but none are present because they have fled to warmer climes. These beautiful trees mark the boundary of a caravan homes park** which now has few residents. Could diminishing numbers point to the possibility of permanent homes being built? All things are subject to change, but not necessarily for the better.
After a short distance, we find ourselves looking at the aforementioned luxury homes. Four of them have recently been built, each individually designed, but all with north-facing windows and balconies. One has a curved roof and a large circular window above an upper floor, glass-panelled see-through lounge. Another well-glazed property has unique ‘V’-shaped windows that protrude outwards to provide additional viewing for the occupants.
Finally we arrive at Brandy Hole Yacht Club that has its own balcony overlooking the river. It’s here that we pause and observe a peaceful scene as the moon continues rising above the adjacent marshland. Soon it will be dark and we shall return the way we came, thankful for having shared time together.
*Tower Caravan Park, Pooles Lane, Hullbridge, SS5 6PB
** Halcyon Caravan Park, Pooles Lane, Hullbridge, SS5 6QA
Text for the Day
Acts 17:26 ‘And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.’
The Anchor Pub
Up River Yacht Club
Hullbridge Yacht Club
Brandy Hole Yacht Club
South Woodham Ferrers Yacht Club