When Peter Caton set out to walk the Essex coast he had no idea of the beauty, wildlife and stories that he would find on the way. He takes the reader up and down the many creeks and estuaries of the longest coastline of any English county, through nature reserves, seaside resorts, unspoilt villages, sailing centres and alongside industry past and present. On the way we read of tales of witchcraft, ghosts, smuggling, bigamy and incest.
We learn of the county’s varied history – of battles with Vikings, invading Romans bringing elephants, a fort where the only casualty occurred during a cricket match, burning Zeppelins and Jack the Ripper. The book is illustrated with photographs and maps, and the narrative contains a wealth of information, including many little-known facts and stories. With gentle humour to match the coastline’s gentle beauty, the book makes for easy reading.
It tells of the solitude of some of the most remote coastal areas in England and of the huge range of wildlife to be found there. In contrast we read of the docks and industry of the Thames, but find that even here there is beauty for those willing to look. The book highlights how climate change may alter our coast and looks at new methods of coping with rising sea levels.
It tells us how tiny settlements grew into large holiday resorts and how other villages have remained as unspoilt and isolated communities. The author’s thought-provoking final reflections consider how the coast has changed over the centuries and what its future may be.