Dangerous roads: The medieval Broomway in Essex

If you’re into dangerous roads, the Broomway is right up your alley. It is an ancient medieval road that leads straight into the sea near Essex. At high tide it is impossible to traverse, and even at low tide it can be dangerous, not just because it is mostly mud but because of unexploded munitions from the war. Known locally as The Black Grounds, the path makes its way northeast, running parallel to the coast for a few miles before curving back to land at the delightfully-named Foulness Island. Before modern roads it was the only way to access the island. The pathway used to be defined by bundles of broomsticks tied to poles which would guide those intrepid enough to wander out into the mist—this is where the name comes from, though it’s also been dubbed “Doomway.”

The Broomway is exceptionally dangerous. The tide comes in quicker than you expect, and drowning rates are high here—the Foulness burial register records 66 dead bodies recovered from the sands since 1600, and that’s only a fraction of those who have lost their lives to the tide. Even when the surface is walkable, at low tide, it’s not to be completely trusted, riddled with patches of sticky mud and quicksand and surrounded by old mines that may explode if touched. With sand in all directions, it can be hard to stay on track in the misty weather, but even in perfect conditions it’s not hard to become disorientated and lose the path.

Source: The Broomway – Essex, England – Atlas Obscura

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