By Joshua Andrews
Mersea Island’s Cudmore Grove Country Park holds 102 acres of sandy beaches, rolling grasslands, and a salt marsh.
It’s no surprise that this historic site located east of Mersea Island is adored by the public: Wide open fields open out towards wide empty beaches brimming with water bluer than the North Sea we’re used to. On the other side of the path is a lake running across that subtly separates the sand from the grasslands. The site provides ample parking that can be paid for ahead of arrival, toilet facilities, a children’s play area and a food kiosk that is open during the weekends.
The vistas of Cudmore Grove are ever-changing as you make your way towards the tip of the island. Here you can find solitude on a beach of seashells and simply watch the waves. The path is flat and level throughout, making it perfect for cycling, buggies and wheelchair access.
Cudmore Groves Buried History
The Grove is steeped in a rich history both recent and ancient. Much has been discovered, and yet there is still an untapped tapestry of past relics buried just beneath the surface. Gravels that were laid down by the Thames-Medway River during a glacial period 300,000 years ago still reside along the cliffs. Rock deposits brought in by the tide occasionally render fossils, including fossilised wood and even mammal bones.
More recently, the area was a popular holiday destination during Roman times. Remains of a blockhouse constructed in 1648 still stands, surviving the English Civil War and even the Siege of Colchester. It has since become an historical monument protected by English Heritage. During World War II, the island was heavily fortified and became one of the front lines awaiting invasion, holding two-thousand troops.
Greet the Grove
Completely open, wild and filled with such different biomes brings the opportunity to fulfil many requirements for those visiting, along with the plethora of wildlife. Cudmore Grove brings a sense of peace and vibrance that will stay with you long after you leave. It sparks imagination and wonder as you walk across the clay-like beaches and find gifts brought from the shore, questioning what they are and where – or even when – they’re from. Although we were not the only explorers, the area is spacious enough to be alone and removed from everyone and truly allow the grove’s essence to seep in. This is a place for reflection.