Essex Coast Walk

Matador Books, Leicester, 2009 

ISBN 978-1848761162

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I don’t remember exactly how I became aware of this book, and when it arrived in the post I remember thinking that my interest in the estuary kept introducing me to books I'd otherwise never come near to;  but once I started reading it I genuinely enjoyed the book (and did not even take offence in the occasional dismissive remark on EU bureaucrats…). In the book Peter Caton describes a series of in total 28 walks along the entire Essex coast (mainland only, omitting the islands) over the course of just under two years, from Manningtree to Purfleet. The book is as much about walking itself (and getting to and from the walks – Caton laudably relied almost exclusively on public transport) as it is about the places and landscapes he visits. The account is very personal, which makes it very accessible, and includes details familiar to anyone who has set out for a days walk in the British Isles – the capriciousness of the elements, the temptations of the lunchtime pub-stop, having donned the wrong gear, etc. The inclusion of maps and information like length of walk (and public transport links) make it almost suitable as walking guide, although I have so far not tested it. Caton starts the book with a quote from George Mallory who'd replied to a journalist's question why he'd attempted to climb Everest "Because it is there", and it is very much the same motivation that led Caton to explore the Essex coast, which despite being born and having lived in Essex all his life, he hadn't paid much attention to before.

Peter Caton is a prolific author (and successfully runs an adhesives factory, and has a family) who has published a number of books, mainly on landscapes and walking (including the fascinating 'No Boat Required', where he describes his visits to 43 tidal islands around the UK).  

Peter Caton

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