Saturday, 23 July 2016

LEG 7 - DAY 6: Harwich - Southend

After a somewhat broken night's sleep in the amazing Harwich RNLI station, (with various garbled messages coming over the radio periodically), we set off at a leisurely 7.30am. 

En-route to the Harwich Premier Inn (luxury!) where the Peloton were staying, we dropped in to Morrisons for a quick round of 'supermarket sweep', to grab some breakfast. 

After a little faffing by the group we got underway, heading south through Essex countryside.... Today was to be a day of skirting around the Essex estuaries, and taking in the glorious countryside, beautiful villages and a lot of white Range Rovers.... 

The peloton cycled as one, as we churned through the first 20km of the day, and it wasn't long before we pulled in to Walton and Frinton RNLI. The station itself was positioned in an elevated position, just back from the waterfront, while the boat was moored at the far end of Walton Pier. A quick photo, and a top up of water, and we got underway again heading south along the waterfront. 

It is fair to say, that Walton have fully embraced beach huts. Not one of the Peloton of 9 had ever seen so many in one place- it was quite a spectacle!

About 10km along the waterfront we arrived Clapton-on Sea, where they were holding a vintage car gathering at the Pier. It felt like little had changed there in the past 60 years... 

A little further along the coast we arrived at the Clapton RNLI station, for a quick photo, and water fill, and on we all went, now splitting into two Pelotons, to enable a few riders to push on...

A bit of a logistical glitch meant that our ferry across the river Colne wasn't in-fact running until the afternoon. The downside was that this would involve a 10km detour into Colchester to cross the river. The positive side however was that we got to cycle along the beautiful Colne estuary, and take in a quick lime soda to re-hydrate. 

By 1pm we were feeling rather peckish and a little low on fuel, so a stop in at a pub on the way, with a good garden out the back, got us refueled and up and running again. 

The penultimate Lifeboat station of the day was Burnham on Crouch- a great station overlooking a large harbor, with a very welcoming crew. We were given soft drinks and able to grab a quick update on the final competitive stage of the Tour De France (go Frome!) before getting back on the road to make our final ferry crossing of the trip.

While waiting for the ferry boat to arrive, Rad decided to go for a quick dip in the River Crouch, and spurred on by the group, upped his game in an attempt to do a forward flip.... This ended in disaster as the metal edging to the decked pontoon had come loose, and resulted in his feed getting stuck and cut/bruised as he ultimately did a enormous belly flop! Thankfully, the injuries were minor and were were able to plough on. 

Once off the ferry we had a short (c 10km) ride into the 'bright lights' of Southend's waterfront amusement parks, in the middle of which is the Southend RNLI station- our accommodation for the night. The crew were very welcoming, and told us a bit about the station (one of the busiest in the country) which houses one of the RNLI's four hover craft, two D class lifeboats, and an Atlantic Class off-shore Rib. 

Given the proximity of the Station to Southend's 'Adventure Island Amusement Park' (immediately next door- c 5 yards away) with the associated lout music and screems from the roller coasters, we suspect it is going to be a long night...!

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