At about 350 miles, Essex claims the longest coastline of any county. But mudflats, saltmarsh and estuaries make the boundary between sea and land hard to define. And its ever-shifting nature makes measurement difficult. Since medieval times large areas of farmland have been reclaimed from tidal saltmarshes and protected by sea walls. In recent years some of those areas have returned to the sea through either natural or intentional breaches in the sea wall.
Essex is full of contrasts and contradictions. At the remote tip of the Dengie peninsula, St Peters Chapel, one of the oldest church buildings in the country, stands just a few miles from the decommissioned Bradwell nuclear power station.
It is this land of contrasts that Tom Bolton explored as he walked the coastline in 2016. Taking a look at history, culture and the county’s literary connections, he gets under the skin of Essex character in this fascinating book.