Hiking the Essex Way for Essex Girls

Route: 81 miles ~ The Essex Way from Epping to Harwich.
Sponsor my ‘Essex Way for Essex Girls’ hike here >

img_2348Since I discovered the Essex Way about three years ago it’s knocked around in my head as something I’d like to tackle. I’ve considered section-hiking it over a few months, using it for a youthwork trek weekend or attempting a non-stop no-sleep hike. This last isn’t entirely insane as I completed a 100km walk from Fulham to Southend in 2015, however it was not particuarly enjoyable no matter the achievement.

When I decided to opt out of work for a few months break, it felt like it was at last time to seriously look at attacking the Essex Way as a proper challenge. Back in November I decided to aim to complete it by the end of March 2017. Around the same time I got more involved with the Essex Women’s Advisory Group and, in discussion about International Women’s Day on 8th March, it began to make sense to begin my walk on that day and in aid of the group’s charitable fund.

1636294294Essex Women’s Advisory Group or EWAG is a group set up to support the wellbeing of women and girls living in Essex. The group aims to challenge negative stereotypes by promoting the confidence and achievements of Essex Women and Girls, and supporting those in need. Their fundraising efforts have benefited local women’s refuges as well as supporting confidence-building projects for female school students and girlguides.

I am dead pleased to have agreed with EWAG that any funds raised from my walk will be ringfenced for projects aimed at improving the confidence and mental health of disadvantaged women and girls, via group activity in the outdoors!

Sponsor my ‘Essex Way for Essex Girls’ hike here >

My Route Plan
I’ve been trying to ignore the route planning for some time. Since the trail is set and waymarked, and I have a very handy OutdoorGPS app to swear by, I’m not too worried about where I need to go. It’s when that I need to think about. How long do I expect to walk for each day? If I go for too long the first day will I burn out too early? I’ve been saying that I think I can do it comfortably in 5 days and therefore I will aim for 4 days, meaning 20 miles a day, but my word that’s still making me nervous. Can I keep up the pace when I’m largely on my own? What if I injure myself? What if my phone battery and chargers run out? What if my lardy arse and sore feet and overthinking brain scupper my efforts?

Although the official Essex Way booklet has been interesting, I’ve also been using the Essex Walks and Essex Way sites to plan my route.

So here’s my plan:

Wednesday 8th March:
Epping (Tube Station) to Pleshey (The Castle)
21.4 miles
Thursday 9th March:
Pleshey (The Castle) to Coggeshall (The Abbey)
20 miles (total 41.4 miles)
Friday 10th March:
Coggeshall (The Abbey) to Dedham (the Church)
21.5 miles (total 62.9 miles)
Saturday 11th March:
Dedham (the Church) to Harwich Lighthouse
18.5 miles (total 81.4 miles) 

I will update as I go along. There’s some need for me to be able to be clear about where I will start and aim to end each day because I’m asking other people to meet me along the way…

Walk Companions
I am encouraging people, particularly fellow Essex Girls, to join me for a few miles along the way. I’m hoping that some fellow committee members from EWAG will join me, and a few friends, and also triathlete Lucy from Paddle Pedal Pace blog who I’ve been in touch with through the brilliantly motivating Tough Girl podcast facebook page.

I’ve decided to keep life cheap and also simple. The expensive option would be to stay in B&Bs or pubs along the way and the difficult option would be to camp or wildcamp and have to think about and carry my kit. However I’m chickening out of both and will be staying with friends the first night or two and then going home. It seems silly to spend money when I’m so near to home and I’m not quite ready to camp out for five nights alone when I’m unsure how I will feel physically. So, a hot bath and a warm bed every night is my plan, with arm-twisted people driving me out to my starting point each morning. I will be owing a lot of thank yous by the end of this!

So that’s the plan so far! Do get in touch via this blog, or my instagram, if you’d like to join me to walk for some of the route, even if it’s just for a few miles. Oh, and please sponsor me!

Sponsor my ‘Essex Way for Essex Girls’ hike here >

Disclaimer: All third party links included in my post are there because I like their work. I have not received any benefits in return for the links and I take no responsibility for what you find there.


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