Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel

Publishing Info: 2016 by Matador (original version published in 2009)

Pages: 363

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Back Cover Summary

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 largest coastline of any English county, through nature reserves, seaside resorts, unspoilt villages, sailing centres and alongside industry past and present.

The author’s thought provoking final reflections consider how the coast has changed over the centuries and what its future may be.

I love walking. Those who know me well know that on a pleasant day I enjoy wandering for miles around local rural areas, the more picturesque and tranquil the better. As a walker and a resident of Essex I found this book to be informative and interesting, opening my eyes to the beauty of the local coastline and inspiring me to put my walking shoes back on. A shoutout to my Dad for getting me this as a birthday present, though I must admit that I hadn’t read it before now; I am very glad to have read this text.

I found that the book’s biggest strength is its accessibility. Each area that he walks through begins with a map, so you can see his route. This is useful when reading the chapters and are unsure as to where he is, plus it gives any readers the opportunity to map the route for any future walks of their own.

Adding to this, each chapter corresponds to the walk Caton undertakes on that day. This allows the text to be broken up so it doesn’t feel monotonous. As a result, you can take the text at your own pace and can fully appreciate the rich detail in which the author goes into. The level of detail brings the miles of Essex coastline into clear and colourful life.

The tone matches the layout of the text perfectly. It treads the line between informative and relatable perfectly. One could be reading about the history of a piece of marshland or castle and subsequently the typically British weather or train delays, and the text doesn’t lose its quality from this. It brings the joy of walking into the modern era and I must applaud the author for managing to do that.

Last year I undertook a walk of my own when I trekked along the Thames Estuary path from the Thameside Nature Park to Pitsea (which you can read about here). Reading the chapter where the author walks this section of coastline, it is evident that the accessibility to the public has improved a lot. When Caton talks about a changing coastline, changes such as these allow more people to see the beauty of the Essex coast, which I can only hope other local authorities will follow.

The Reflections chapter, effectively acting as the conclusion, is a good way for the book to finish whilst asking the readers what they are contributing to the maintenance or destruction of the coastline they have just read about. It shows that the people of the country will have to make certain changes to their lifestyles if future generations can continue to appreciate this little-known beauty.

Essex Coast Walk is an enjoyable read that piques my interest in walking and the local area. Soon I hope to follow in Peter Caton’s footsteps by finishing the Thames Estuary Path from Pitsea to Southend and I’ll keep my eyes open for all of the rich detail that Caton describes the Essex coast with.