This is Mr Haggis and his boat Karina.
From onboard the sturdy Karina Mr Haggis runs wildlife boat trips from the Foundry Jetty in Walton-on-the-Naze taking you round the backwaters and acquainting you not only with gulls, oyster-catchers and geese, but also the colony of seals which return to the banks of the many islands which make up the backwaters each year.
I have never seen seals in the wild and was hoping that today I would be lucky enough to spot some. To my amazement I was to be rewarded with sightings of pregnant female seals basking on the banks as well as one seal which kept bobbing up out of the water to take a look at our passing boat.
Camera forever at the ready I managed to take a few photos from a distance as Mr Haggis would not venture any closer to the group, rightly respecting the seal’s territory as their home.
As well as watching the seals we learned all about the oyster beds marked out by the withies, stems of willow tree planted into the sea bed, signalling where the channels of oysters lie ready for harvesting and that Arthur Ransome based his book Secret Water on his experiences around the Walton backwaters. I must be drawn to much the same places as Ransome as Lake Consiton is another favourite place of mine and where inspiration for the book Swallows and Amazons emanated.
All in all this was a two hour trip to savour. Peaceful and informative. Interesting and a privilege. I would recommend this experience to anyone wanting to see some of the backwaters of Essex taking you back to days gone by introduced by a guide who knows what he’s talking about.
It gets my seal of approval.