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The Mardyke Way

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The Mardyke Way is a 7 mile footpath along the side of the Mardyke from Ship Lane, Aveley to Bulphan, passing through Davy Down riverside park. It was opened in 2007 as part of the Thames Chase community forest.

The footpath starts in a fairly steep sided valley, formed by an ancient meander in the Thames. The slopes have some ancient woodland, and the valley floor was grazed.

The path follows the 19th century (and earlier) route used by barges to reach farms at Bulphan - see Barges to Bulphan. It passes under the historic Stifford bridge which was a medieval stone bridge built in 1487, but has been rebuilt several times since. Close to the bridge, various artifacts have been recovered, including a medieval pilgrim's badge. Formerly, the Mardyke was tidal and it was possible to reach Orsett Hall at high tide, but this ended with the building of a sluice gate at Purfleet in 1760 as part of the construction of the gunpowder magazine. After leaving Stifford, the landscape surrounding the path becomes the flat lands of the Orsett and Bulphan fens.

The name "Mardyke" means boundary ditch and it forms part of the boundary between the Chafford and Barstable hundreds. It is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter from around the time of the Norman conquest.

The main tributory to the Mardyke rises in Holden's Wood between Great Warley and Little Warley and the river flows in to the Thames at Purfleet where there was a water mill owned by the Knight's Templar. There are other tributories that rise in Upminster and Langdon Hills.

The pictures show:

  • the Mardyke at Davy Down riverside park
  • the view across the valley from the Mardyke Valley golf course towards Stifford church
  • a ford across the Mardyke
  • Harrow bridge at Bulphan

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