BY JOSHUA ANDREWS

From the snug footpaths enclosed with wild beauty, to the isolated – and ecologically important – islands dotted across the wide River Alde, Iken holds an atmosphere that will take you back to your childhood. Iken, a site of special scientific interest, has an air of mysticism that is hard to convey, as though we had stepped behind us into a simpler time.

Along our stroll across the calm and narrow beaches, lay the Iken Bay Riding & Livery shire. A home for horses to roam free and a safe haven where anyone can learn to ride. It’s easy to lose a sense of time and self while watching these majestic creatures. 

Continuing our trek, we came across many beautiful farmhouses and friendly locals. Roads for both walkers and drivers alike. Forests and even gardens that could have been mistaken for wild woods. At the end of our inspiring nature walk, we were led to St Botolph’s Church.

Easily seen from wherever you are throughout Iken, sitting proudly upon the River Alde, the entrance to St Botolph’s Church was kept hidden like a secret, opening up to a well maintained and beautifully haunting cemetery, with many of the names and dates washed away with time and the saltwater air. Inside St Botolph’s Church, we were completely alone with the soft hush of the rolling river tide and the quiet serenity and stillness within the old flint walls. Wherever your spirituality lay, it was hard to ignore the spiritual energy, the sense of peace. 

We were truly lucky to end our wanderings within the church. Heading back to where we started was different. We felt lighter, our lives richer from the experience. There’s magic hidden somewhere across Iken and the River Alde. Make the trek and see if you can’t find it for yourself.

Follow more of our nature walks by reading Mersea Island’s Cudmore Grove and stay up to date with future treks through England’s grand landscape.