Despite it being the busiest weekend of the year (we usually avoid going away on bank holidays) we decided to take the motorhome down to North Essex for a couple of nights over the weekend.
Our first night was a 'Park 4 Night' spot at Dedham in the Stour Valley where we stayed all day and then the night. We spent the day walking in the valley to Flatford and beyond and then around Dedham itself. Clocking up 15.5km there were a few bits of interest on our wanderings with Orange Balsam, Arrowhead, Flowering Rush, Pale Gallingale, Corn Mint and Perrenial Sow-thistle seen amongst the more common riverside plants. Two new plants for me were Red Osier Dogwood and Stagshorn Sumac at Flatford RSPB and Dedham respectively. A very fresh Chicken-of-the-Woods was also on a stump near Flatford.
After our massively expensive overnight on the carpark (50p!) we left early and drove to the coast at Walton-on-the-Naze where we were to spend the whole day and night on a small but very nicely situated carpark at the north end of the seafront. For a fee of GBP10 for 24 hours we had a fantastic spot with our hatchback opening up with views of the beach and sea. Another long walk was the order of the day so we did a whole circuit of The Naze. The nature highlight was undoubtedly a couple of scarce Sea Aster Bees by the seawall but there were also some nice coastal plants too - Golden Samphire, Annual Sea-blight, Prickly Saltwort, Frosted Orache, Sea Rocket, Salsify and Prickly Lettuce. A further walk along the beach on the eastern side of the Naze (known for it's fossils) gave me 2 new and weird naturalised plants - Red Hot Poker and Russian Vine! Sandwiched in between those 2 walks was another walk south along the promenade into the hellish hustle and bustle of the seaside resort and it's horrendous pier amusement arcade. A single Mediterrenean Gull north along the beach was small consolation! 17.1km was our day walking total.
The following morning, before the drive home, we spent walking at Mistley and Manningtree. The estuary there had a massive flock of 700+ Black-tailed Godwits.