The Strood - Atlas Obscura

The Strood

Peldon, England

This ancient causeway can flood daily, leaving Mersea Island as a true island for hours at a time, and cutting its 7,000 residents off from the mainland. 

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The Strood is a unique half-mile-long causeway that connects Mersea Island to mainland Essex and serves as the only road onto the island. However, twice a day, it is transformed when the high tide rolls in, and the entire causeway is submerged underwater for up to one and a half hours. This phenomenon cuts Mersea Island off from the mainland, making it a true island for a time.

The Strood was initially a basic reinforced trackway constructed across the marshes. However, over the centuries, as the sea level rose, the Strood underwent several renewals and alterations, and its height was progressively raised to withstand the changing tides. Evidence suggests the Strood was built between 684 CE and 702 CE. The word “Strood” is of Anglo-Saxon/Old English origin, meaning “marshy ground.”

Over the centuries, the Strood has been the subject of many myths and legends. For instance, smugglers once stored contraband in the pond of the Peldon Rose, immediately north of the causeway. There are many stories of apparitions regarding the marshes on either side of the Strood, such as that of a bear that escaped from a ship and roamed the marshes. The bear is said to have killed a group of fishermen who landed there, and some have claimed to have spied a ghostly bear chasing the ghost of these unfortunate fishermen to this day.

Residents of Mersea Island oppose further elevations of the Strood or a replacement bridge. Though it would aid access to the island, islanders take much pride in their unique identity and say they love being cut off. It is not only the sea that can cut off the island, for in 2012, Mersea Island celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in their classic quirky style by declaring mock independence. To cross the Strood, visitors to the island could purchase a passport for 50p, the proceeds of which went to charity.

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April 2, 2024

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