After dropping off the missus early this morning, I headed off to Wallasea Island for a leisurely walk.
I note from the RSPB website: “RSPB Wallasea Island is a magical landscape of marshland, lagoons, ditches and sea. Walk along the seawalls to see the saltmarsh, mudflats and lagoons, where terns dive into the water in summer and huge flocks of waders and wildfowl arrive in winter.” According to a paper pinned on a notice board by the car park, from where you can walk alongside the River Crouch toward where the Crouch and Roche meet, 39 species of birds were spotted in July, including the Marsh Harrier. It was a warm day with a pleasant breeze and for most of the time as I ambled along the path toward the visitor hut at the end, I found while not too many birds there was not a person (nor a dog) in sight.
Since discovering the Wallasea Nature Reserve a few years back, it has established itself as a favourite walking spot for an old dodderer who knows his limitations. While one can argue there are many other sights of superior natural beauty, there is something about the flat, bleak, rugged landscape of Wallasea Island, with its various bird life according to season, and views of life on the river and in and around inner lakes, seen either side of the footpath, I find especially attractive. It is why from time to time I walk along its paths and find opportunities to reflect on “life, universe and everything”. But I have to confess there was another reason for doing the walk today. We met a chap a month ago who sounded the praises of the Lakes Café / Restaurant in Stambridge. Going from Rochford to Wallasea, a pleasant fifteen minute drive in charming Essex countryside, one passes three pubs: the Cherry Tree, Royal Oak and Shepherd and Dog. Between the first two of these, just off the Stambridge Road, is where to find the café, by a lake along with fishermen fishing.
I knew from the description my man gave me that this was a place to visit, given my hobby of checking out and scoring breakfast eating places, especially if a bit different. There was an extra incentive today as I wanted to find out what this establishment was like with a view to it being the place to go when me and those with me finish their walk on Wallasea Island. This was my third bite of the cherry at trying to visit the place. The first time I couldn’t find it and the second time it was closed when I expected it to be open. For the record, its published opening times are Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 4pm; breakfast from 9 to 11.30 and lunch from 12 to 3.30 with cakey / snacky type items presumably available at any time.
I sat down by the window overlooking the lake and noted pleasant if not overwhelmingly welcoming staff and an agreeable ambience. I chose their full English breakfast offering along with a pot of tea (where I could get two full cups) and while waiting studied its lunchtime menu that looked interesting and just about adequate and watching fisherman catch fish in a pleasant lake area that could be viewed from where I sat. While at a tenner it was a bit dearer than what I am used to, it was a bit up market and rightly claims to do freshly cooked and homemade to order. It began to fill up with I presume regulars, typically old dears on an outing. I enjoyed my breakfast and the sausage did have that always looked for wow factor. From today’s experience, I score it 8.5 out of 10, noting this is place worth re-visiting, maybe for lunch or afternoon tea, after an invigorating walk with family and friends on Wallasea Island.
Update 08/08/19: Today, I re-visit to Wallasea Island and the Lakes cafe that I reported on a week ago, for an early morning walk, followed by breakfast, with (I am sure the owner is pleased) plenty of happy (I should imagine) regulars. It was another lovely day and I was not disappointed other than not getting to speak to the owner, who I understood was around, for I am intrigued at the history of what I see as a hidden treasure, and would like to know more.