Along the Crouch Estuary via Blue House Farm
Autumn or winter
Flocks of wintering birds along the estuary, on the fleet at Blue House Farm and on adjoining wet fields.
Sections of seawall path and parts of Blue House Farm can be muddy or wet in winter; little shelter along the seawall – check the forecast and take warm clothing.
Train to Althorne, back from N Fambridge, or vice versa – choose based on the direction of the wind
Flat, except for short climbs on and off the seawalls; lengthy walk on roads back to N Fambridge station.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Althorne station to Blue House Farm
On leaving Althorne station, turn right across the railway and follow the track down to the estuary, where you turn right to follow the path along the seawall. After a detour around an intruding patch of saltmarsh, you see Bridgemarsh Island across the mudflats and creek on the left. It was farmed until it was flooded in 1928, killing all the livestock, and has reverted to saltmarsh and mudflats. On the right at first there are arable fields, which later give way to pastures grazed by sheep and cattle. After about an hour of walking you come to a gate and sign indicating that you are entering Essex Wildlife Trust's Blue House Farm nature reserve.
Stage BC: Blue House Farm
Continue along the seawall past grazing marsh. A short while after you lose sight of Bridgemarsh Island a sign points you right on to a waymarked permissive path that follows a counterwall across the Blue House Farm reserve, past two hides looking out over the fleet, and across fields that can be very wet in winter, bringing you eventually to the reserve car park. (If you want to avoid the wet fields, keep straight on along seawall, turning off when you see a footpath waymarked right, then left at the next path junction to head for North Fambridge and the Ferry Boat Inn.)
Stage CD: Blue House Farm to N Fambridge station
Go through the car park and turn left on the track beyond it. Just after entering the farm yard, follow the footpath straight on to the right of the farm buildings and down the edge of a field. Turn right over a stile and a plank bridge at a path junction and follow the footpath across two meadows and over a stile on to a track. This runs around the back of the Ferry Boat Inn and emerges on to Ferry Road. The Ferry Boat Inn is a short way down to the left. For North Fambridge station, turn right and follow Ferry Road, then The Avenue, then Fambridge Road – the station is on the right before the road crosses the railway.