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Essex Walks: Bradwell

  1. Description
  2. Directions
  3. Photos
  4. History

Description & Map

Title: Bradwell
Distance: 12 Miles
Time taken: 4½ Hours
Location: Dengie Peninsula, 9 miles east of Maldon
OS Explorer Map: 176
Grid Ref.: TL 992 038
Parking: West Field car park, Tillingham, opp. St Nicholas's church, CM0 7TW
Bus:bus Bus D1, two hourly from Maldon, no Sunday service
Train: No train service
Refreshment: The Green Man, Bradwell Waterside
The Fox and Hounds, Tillingham
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 2/3 Easiness: 3/3 Amenity: 3/3 Refreshments: 3/3

[Click image to enlarge]

OS map extract 
[Click image to enlarge]

Download and print all 3 for your walk: 1. pdf Download Directions PDF
2. pdf Download PDF photo-set
3. pdf Download Bradwell Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen OS map Bradwell Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Bradwell Map (Google)
Bing map Bradwell Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Bradwell Weather

Walk Description  

Although this is a long walk, it's not demanding. The terrain is level, and the footpaths are well maintained, although not always clearly marked. About half the route follows the coastal path. This is beautiful, with plenty of visual interest.
From the mudflats and seascape itself, to the ancient Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, the sandy beaches along the northern shore, Bradwell marina with dozens of boats bobbing around on the water, even the power station: there's always plenty to see and enjoy. You don't really need directions for this part of the walk, they're only included them as an excuse to showcase some scenic photographs! But the first section, going east from the car park to the seashore, and the last section taking you back to Tillingham over fields and through woods, does warrant some guidance.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. From West Field car park (P), cross North Street and enter St Nicholas's churchyard through the wooden gate. Pass to the left of the church and leave the churchyard via a kissing gate in the north fence. Turn right.
B. At the end of the fence there is a gap. Bear right through the gap and continue east with the hedge on your left (1) for about half a mile, until you reach a small lane. (2).
C. Walk ahead along the lane ignoring the footpaths to the left and right until you reach a small industrial estate. The route continues eastwards but a few yards to the left, passing along a track between two buildings (3).
D. 200 yards past the industrial estate the track turns right and there is a field entrance on the left. The route heads diagonally across this field towards a small wooden bridge in the north east corner (4). However if the field is blocked by crops, stay on the farm track skirting the field.
E. At the far end of the wooden bridge, turn left along the farm track for 30 yards. Go around the corner then immediately bear left to go diagonally across the next field (5). At the start of this field crossing the end point isn't clear: head north east aiming to the left of a line of bushes (6). The land around here was reclaimed from the sea during the 18th century.
F. Carry on in the same direction, heading towards 2 trees to the left (north) side of the barn you can see in the distance. When you reach the trees, continue walking north east. The waymarker, half hidden behind the second tree, points out the direction (7).
G. Continue north east across the field then bear slightly right to walk east along the field margin. After 250 yards follow the field margin around to the left then turn right through a gate into some pasture. Walk straight ahead eastwards across this field to a gate onto a tiny lane (8).
H. Go straight ahead along the lane to a T-junction then turn left and walk along the lane towards the sea wall (9).
I. Climb up onto the sea wall and continue north, with the marshes and then the sea on your right. There is a radar station on the mud flats to your right, and you can see St Peter's Chapel in the distance.
J. Keep going for along the sea wall for about two miles, towards St Peter's Chapel. The path turns right towards the sea, then left along the coast (10) then moves back slightly more inland: all the way you have the borrowdyke on your left and the marshes on the right (11).
K. You will see St Peter's Chapel getting closer. Follow the coastal path towards a copse (12). Passing the bird observatory at Linnet's Cottage, you emerge from the copse to the grounds of St Peter's, one of the oldest churches in Britain.
L. From St Peter's, continue north along the coastal path, with some mature trees on your left. Near the northerly tip of the coast you will pass a line of barges which have been sunk offshore to protect the coast from erosion (13).
M. Follow the sea wall round to the left towards Bradwell Power Station, and keep walking alongside the estuary for a further two miles (14).
N. Walk past the power station and carry on as you pass tiny Pewet Island (enjoyed for many years by the smuggling fraternity) on the right and a holiday caravan park on the left (15).
O. When the grassy coastal path joins the road, turn left. There is a single storey, white painted cottage opposite, the 'Bradwell Centre for Outdoor Learning'. To the left of this there is a more modern house set back from the road. Take the footpath to the right (estuary-side) of this house, going up a slope towards the marina (16).
P. Alternatively, the Green Man is about 60 yards further up the road.
Q. Walk past Bradwell Marina observation tower, then past the clubhouse. Continue ahead into the boatyard passing to the right of the workshop and office. You will see the seawall ahead of you. Bear left to pass between the office and the seawall (17).
R. Go ahead across a piece of scrubland with the seawall on your right, then down the slope into a field. Turn right to walk around the edge on the field, with the seawall on your right. At the far end of the field turn left towards Westwick Farm, passing to the left of a pond, then turn right to go up a slope into a field, heading south (18).
S. Walk ahead with the hedge on your right through a narrow field and then a wider one, for about a third of a mile. At the facing hedge, go through the corner (19) into another, bigger, field. The exit from this field is hard to spot: there's a tiny gap in the roadside hedge, about 50 yards to the right of a 5-barred gate.
T. Cross the road and take the footbridge and gate almost opposite (20). Carry straight on with a hedge on your left onto Maldon Road. Cross the road and turn left. After 140 yards, turn right alongside a wooden fence.
U. Continue straight ahead across the next field, following the line of telegraph poles towards some woods (21).
V. Enter the woods near their left margin. Continue south through the trees for 250 yards. Leaving the woods, continue straight ahead across another field, then into another tiny patch of woodland, known as Packards Grove.
W. As you leave Packards Grove, bear left to walk up a farm track heading southwards (22) passing Packards, a grade II listed building, on your left.
X. Just past the farmhouse follow the track around to the right (23). Walk along the track for almost a quarter of a mile until you reach a junction. Turn left towards Mark Farm (24).
Y. Continue into the farmyard until you reach The Granary on your left, then turn right to pass the barn (25). Follow the track round to the left to continue south with trees on your left and a market garden on your right.
Z. Go straight on along the track for about 500 yards until you pass through a small clump of trees then turn right, to re-trace your route back to Tillingham (26).

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
P Parking 1 With the hedge on your left 2 Marsh Road
3 Bradwell 4 Bradwell 5 Bradwell
6 Bradwell 7 Bradwell 8 Bradwell
9 Bradwell 10Bradwell 11Bradwell
12Bradwell 13Bradwell 14Bradwell
15Bradwell 16Bradwell 17Bradwell
18Bradwell 19Bradwell 20Bradwell
21Bradwell 22Bradwell 23Bradwell
24Bradwell 25Bradwell 26Bradwell
Download PDF photo-set here pdf


St Peters

St Peter's Chapel

The Chapel of St Peter on the Wall was founded by St Cedd. Cedd had been ordained at Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland. He trained as a missionary, and walked the lanes and tracks of ancient England talking to people he met along the way, trying to re-awaken their interest in Christianity, which had become a minority religion since the retreat of the Romans. Cedd was sent to Essex at the request of Sigbert, King of the East Saxons. He arrived in Bradwell (a busy port at that time) in 653 A. D. As he explored the area he came across the ruins of a Roman fort and decided to use the stones to build a permanent church in the region. From there he established other Christian centres at Mersea, Tilbury, Prittlewell and Upminster. In 659, on a visit back to the north, Cedd was asked to establish another monastery. Cedd chose a remote site at Lastingham on the Yorkshire moors, which seemed fit only for 'wild beasts, robbers and demons'. In 664, while in Yorkshire, Cedd caught the plague. As he lay dying 30 of his monks from Bradwell came to be with him. They too caught the plague. Only one young boy survived and returned to Bradwell. Despite this setback, the mission survived, becoming part of a Benedictine monastery before being sold to William of Wykeham in 1391. In Tudor times, the church was abandoned and for hundreds of years the building was used by local farmers as a barn, but in 1920 it was restored and re-consecrated as a place of worship.

Radar Station

Radar Station

Bradwell radar station was initially set up to research High-Frequency 323W Surface Wave Radar (HFSWR) technology studies. The site was originally managed by Marconi Radar Systems Ltd, and was sub-let to the Royal Signals Research Establishment to undertake research work. The costs of running the site (estimated in 1988 to be in the range of £70000 excluding staff costs) was originally apportioned between these two bodies. HFSWR can be used for the detection and tracking of ships. Essex Walks understands that the station currently acts as part of the BAE Wide Area Coastal Surveillance System. This enables low level civil and military applications including the detection and tracking of small craft at distances up to 35 nautical miles and larger vessels at ranges up to 200Nm


Bradwell Power Station

Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

Bradwell nuclear power station was built at a location where the land was of little agricultural value, road access was good, the area was geologically sound and there was an unlimited source of cooling water from the North Sea. Building started in 1957, and from 1962 to 2002, a total of 60TWh of electricity was generated from the twin Magnox reactors. It is currently decommissioned and the site is planned to be cleared by 2092. The clearance work is staged: from 2002 to 2005 the site was left for the fuel rods to cool down and subsequently be reprocessed at Sellafield. Then in 2009 the cooling pond was partially drained down. In 2011 the plant in the turbine hall was removed and the hall itself demolished, and in 2015 the site will enter a Care and Maintenance phase. This involves leaving the reactors to cool, removing most of the other structures, and leaving the reactor building in a safe state requiring minimum supervision. Final site clearance will occur during the period 2083 - 2092. 5 years to build: 40 years of operation: 90 years to make the site safe and clear it. And, at the time of writing this in 2013 there is still no plan in place for the management of the residual nuclear material. A new nuclear reactor will be opened in the vicinity by 2025.



Dengie Mudflats

The Dengie saltmarshes and mudflats are a Special Protection Area, of international importance for wildlife including many species of bird. The nature reserve includes 30 acres of shell bank and extensive mudflats (saltings), and was established to help shore nesting birds, especially the little tern. A rare British breeding sea bird, the little tern suffers from 'people pressure' on shingle beaches where they nest. Bar-tailed godwit, hen harrier, dunlin, oystercatcher and lapwing also thrive here, and winter visitors to the Dengie coast include knot, sanderling and grey plover.


St Nicolas' Church

St Nicolas' Church, Tillingham

St Nicholas' Church is fairly recent in the context of this walk, being only about 800 years old. However the site had been used for Christian worship for at least the preceeding 500 years. Between 604 and 616, (about 50 years before St Cedd founded St Peters) the parish of Tillingham was granted by King Ethelbert of Kent to Mellitus, Bishop of London, to help finance his Monastery of St Paul. That monastery eventually became St Paul's Cathedral, and the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's still retain the right to appoint the local Tillingham vicar. Some parts of the current building, including the walls of western half of the chancel, the north side of the nave, and the north doorway, date from the twelfth century.