COASTAL CONNECTION

Welcome to the Saltmarsh Coast, 75 miles of beautiful wilderness and tidal estuaries, interspersed with quaint villages and historic towns. Hidden in the corner of Essex, but only 40 miles from London, there is so much to discover throughout our dynamic and diverse coastline. From internationally significant wildlife reserves, to the iconic sailing barges and modern water sports, there is plenty to see and do in the Maldon District.

If you feel drawn to the coast, the sea air and wide open spaces, discover the Maldon District.

75 MILES OF COASTLINE

Coastal footpath, River Crouch

Our amazing coastline is forever changing with the tidal influence and seasonal impact. The Blackwater Estuary is the largest estuary in Essex and is of international importance to over wintering birds such as Plovers, Redshanks, Black Tailed Godwit and Brent Geese.

The shores of the Estuary have a mix of mud-flats, saltmarsh, shingle and shell banks which in turn encourages a diverse range of habitats for wildlife. The flora and fauna, found on the coastal plants, include lax-flowered sea lavender, golden samphire and birds-foot clover.

In addition to the above, the Maldon District is a paradise for sailing and water sport enthusiasts. Both the Blackwater Estuary and the River Crouch offer open water for sailing, canoeing, fishing, etc. Boat trips are available for a range of trips to see the scenery and wildlife, such as the seals on the sandbanks. Or you may prefer a trip on a historic sailing barge or to hire a canal boat.

For details on moorings and companies offering boats for charter you may wish to contact the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre or the Burnham-on-Crouch Tourist Information Centre.

BARGE GRAVEYARD

As seen on Channel 4's 'Britain at Low Tide', below is a list of the wrecked barges on the River Blackwater by the Promenade Park in Maldon. The programme highlights the excellent work that CITiZAN’s (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) dedicated network of volunteers are doing. CITiZAN is the first systematic national response to the threat of erosion to significant archaeological sites along the coast and its tidal estuaries.

The CITiZAN project focuses on exposed archaeological sites such as the remains of prehistoric forests, Roman buildings, ancient salt-working sites, lost medieval ports, fishing settlements, coastal defences from both World Wars and countless abandoned boats, barges and ships. The project also delivers training on a community level to create an infrastructure and network of volunteers with the skills to be able to record and monitor the highly significant, but fragile and threatened archaeological sites.

The list below was compiled by Colin Swindale and he can vouch for all these vessels as he was able to read the names carved in them before and after they were moored (with the exception of the Canvey).

  • Canvey of Maldon was built in 1876. She remains grubbed out from a boatyard upriver and was dumped here, she was partially broken up 1948.
  • British Lion of Rochester was built in 1879.
  • William Cleverly of Rochester was built in 1899.
  • Lancashire of London was built in 1900. She is buried under Maldon Yacht Club’s Dinghy Park.
  • Lady Helen of London was built in 1902 (stern).
  • Pretoria of Faversham was built in 1902. She was partially broken up downriver and the bottom only was dumped here.
  • Mamgu ex Cawana of London was built in 1904. She was built as a yacht and owned 1924-1929 by the Marine artist W. L. Wylie.
  • Vicunia of London was built in 1912.
Wrecked Barges on the Blackwater

THAMES SAILING BARGES

HISTORY

Thames Sailing Barges

These barges were once the lifeblood of Maldon's prosperity, facilitating trade of straw, manure, and horse feed with London. The flat - bottomed hull enabled the vessel to navigate the winding, shallow creeks of the Essex coast. The barges were economically efficient and easy to sail, needing only two crewmen. The river and coastal barge trade reached its peak around 1914, meeting the demand for trade in bricks and cement as London rapidly expanded. Some of the barges played an important role in WWII as part of the Little Ships Fleet during the evacuation of Dunkirk . Motorised transport eventually led to the decline of barge trade and many of these objects of grace and beauty were broken up or abandoned as wrecks.

For more detailed information on the Thames Barges you may like to visit The Society for Sailing Barge Research.

HYTHE QUAY

Bardges at Hythe Quay

The word 'Hythe' is an old Saxon word and roughly translated means landing place. For well over a thousand years Hythe Quay has been, and still is, the gateway to Maldon for vessels arriving from the sea. During the last hundred years, the importance of Hythe Quay as a place of trade for cargo carrying vessels has gradually been eroded and today the barges berthing alongside the quay mainly carry passengers on pleasure trips.

Hythe Quay is an ideal location for a visit, whether it be overnight or just a few hours. At one end there is the award winning Promenade Park and the other, public houses, restaurants, Maldon High Street and a chandlery.

Should you wish to visit Hythe Quay by boat and require a berth alongside, please contact the River Bailiff or Maldon Tourist Information Centre.

TODAYS USES

Thames Bardge under sail in the river Blackwater

With the growing efficiency of road and rail transport, the barges have had to continue to evolve to fit new uses. The last surviving vessels have been lovingly restored, either by private owners or charitable trusts and can now be enjoyed in their original glory.

These days they operate as pleasure craft, training vessels and even corporate hospitality centres. Some barges moored at the Hythe Quay are open to the public from time to time and most are available for charter. Visitors are always eager to take a trip on board, many are invited to take the helm, others sit back and enjoy a leisurely sail or a meal on board.

To find out about trips onboard an iconic Thames Sailing Barge you can contact Topsail Charter

THINGS TO DO

Topsail Charters Ltd

Topsail Charters

Historic sailing barges ‘Hydrogen’ and ‘Thistle’ are available for regular public cruises and also for private hire for groups up to 50 from a variety of East Coast locations including Maldon and Ipswich.

Northey Island

Northey Island

Small island in the Blackwater Estuary with a large area of undisturbed Saltmarsh. Site of special scientific interest. Site of the Battle of the Maldon in AD991. Guided tours by prior arrangement.

Basin Pleasure Boats

Basin Pleasure Boats

Enjoy one of leisurely our hour long daily cruises or take a romantic 2 hour sunset trip along the Chelmer Blackwater Navigation Canal. We have rowing boats also for hire.

Fellowship Afloat

Fellowship Afloat

This RYA recognised teaching establishment is a unique residential centre based on-board the ex-light vessel 'Trinity'. RYA dinghy sailing and power boat training, multi-activity and adventure activity weeks for children.

The Viking Saga Boat Trips

The Viking Saga Boat Trips

The Viking Saga, listed on the UK National Historic Ships Register, was built locally in 1947. After a complete restoration she is now used for public cruises from Maldon and neighbouring ports.

Mangapps Railway Museum

Mangapps Railway Museum

Extensive working railway museum including locomotives, carriages, wagons, historic buildings, memorabilia and a major collection of signalling equipment. Much of the collection is under cover. Train rides are available every open day.

Two seals

Seal trips at Burnham Quay

Discovery Charters offers fishing and seal watching wildlife trips which leave from Essex Marina on Wallasea Island and the Quay at Burnham-on-Crouch.

RSPB Wallasea Island

RSPB Wallasea Island

RSPB Wallasea Island Wild Coast project is a landmark conservation and engineering scheme for the 21st century, on a scale never before attempted in the UK and the largest of its type in Europe.

EXPLORING THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Dog walking along the Sea Wall

The Maldon District has acres of unspoilt countryside, including breathtaking coastline, tranquil rivers, historic canal and places to indulge in your favourite outdoor pursuit. Walking and cycling are a great way to explore areas off the beaten track.The Blackwater Estuary is an important habitat for wildlife and the District has a number of schemes dedicated to encouraging rare species of plants and ecosystems. 

The shift of seasons brings a different character to the ever changing landscape. As spring turns to summer, colourful wild flowers illuminate the hedgerows. As autumn and winter approaches, the Brent geese arrive from Siberia and a rich variety of wading birds reclaim the mudflats. The District has a number of nature reserves, providing ideal habitats for often rare and unusual species.

You may also be interested in Northey Island owned by the National Trust or RSPB Old Hall Marshes. Please note access to Northey Island is strictly by appointment due to the overwintering wildfowl and ground nesting birds

An amazing range of walking maps are available at the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre and the Burnham-on-Crouch Tourist Information Centre.