Last month I visited Maldon’s Hythe Quay for the first time. Maldon is an Essex town, situated on the coast by the Blackwater Estuary. The Quay itself sits on the River Chelmer; upstream (to the west) lies Chelmsford, whereas downstream the river empties into the Blackwater Estuary and then the sea.
Natasha and her parents have been to Maldon before, so I was in safe hands! We had lunch in the Request Coffee Shop, and then walked off the meal with a stroll along the quay. The sunshine was in plentiful supply, and reflected brightly from the water which was high in the river. There was a motley collection of boats and barges tied up at the Quay itself, and we saw some sails that had been painted and laid out to dry on the quayside. As we walked past the ornamental lake in Promenade Park we saw black-headed gulls, mallards and mute swans, plus areas of reedbed – with a volunteer group in action!
The volunteers were cutting back some of the reeds along the edges of the lake. Reed cutting used to be carried out to produce thatching material, but it is also a useful habitat management technique. Cutting areas of reed maintains open water and prevents succession of the lake to drier habitats. Reedbeds are an important habitat for many birds and invertebrates however, so there has to be a balance.
As we walked around to the far side of the lake and through Promenade Park, I spotted some moorhens and a coot wandering in and out of the reeds. I also spotted a starling enjoying the sunshine in the park itself! The Maldon waterfront was a great place to walk and spot wildlife on this brilliant February day, and there would be plenty more to do there if I visited again – there are opportunities for boat trips and led wildlife walks, and Promenade Park also has some great facilities and activities including a tree trail, a water play park, a play galleon and fort, sand pits and a children’s maze. Time to dig out some young relatives and drag them along!