Sunrise at St Peter’s Chapel

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Growing up I spent most weekends sailing on the River Blackwater, and something that was always pointed out to me was St Peter’s chapel. From a distance it is a squarish building right on the end of the Dengie peninsula, and I was always told it was the oldest Christian chapel in the UK.

It’s remoteness made it somewhere I wanted to visit, and last year’s discovery of the joy of sunrises, meant that was the perfect time of day to do it.

After a discussion with the Skipper of the Lady Grace, it was agreed we’d meet her at the end of the jetty at West Mersea at 3.30am for her to take J and I across to Bradwell marina.

A very bright moon, meant there was plenty of light crossing the river, but more breeze than expected meant I got rather wet from the spray!

The walk along the seawall was glorious; the tide was high and the juxtaposition of the sea on one side and farmland on the other was beautiful.

Looking back at Bradwell power station

It’s a lovely wide seawall, and it made for an easy walk. It’s 3.5 miles along the seawall, and again, it amazed me how long before sunrise it gets light. The headtorches weren’t needed at all.

Sunrise over the Dengie marshes

I learned that the last professional wildfowler, Walter Linnet, lived next to the chapel, and although the tide had only slightly dropped as we arrived, it was clear they were full of life.

And as we cleared the trees St Peter’s Chapel became visible, it’s an understated building from the outside. It is still in regular use, and on entering the sense of peace and stillness was overwhelming. It is hard to explain the impact that stillness has, but was so powerful to experience.

More historical information on the chapel is here:

We chose to walk back using the roads and footpaths rather than retrace our steps along the seawall, and discovered an old RAF base, RAF Bradwell Bay.

RAF Bradwell Bay with Mersea in the distance

The WW2 Memorial was very striking, and beautifully maintained.

We met Lady Grace at the marina for a very peaceful trip back; the wind had dropped and we were treated to the sight of an egret and a cormorant drying its wings.

This was an adventure that was a long time in the making (should adventures actually be planned??!) but so worth it. I definitely want to go back to the chapel, and spend more time around the area.

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