On Christmas Eve I took my father-in-law out to a place that I had been meaning to visit but never had actually gone to. So we wrapped up well against the bleak northerly winds and the odd blustery splatter of rain, harnessed up the dog and went out to Ongar Hill.
There are three things about Ongar Hill that need to be pointed out before we go any further. Firstly, there is no hill – this is the edge of the fens – you can’t get any flatter. Secondly, it is the site of a unique and derelict WW2 coastal defence station. Thirdly, there is nothing else there. Nothing at all.
The three storey lookout tower becomes visible as you round a bend in the lane about a quarter of a mile away:
The square tower becomes quite monolithic as you stand beneath it, and whilst not exactly tall, would have commanded an advantageous view over the mouth of the Great Ouse and out into the Wash for a mile or so.
There are three smaller single storey buildings close by, each in a dreadful state of decay, and having been visited by less welcome visitors who have left a variety of reminders of their stay, from tags and basic graffiti (come on Phlegm, where are you!) to fires, makeshift beds and the detritus of non-too healthy recreational pastimes!
Inside the tower, the first floor has been removed but there is a hatch into the top floor that looks like someone has had a rope or two up there in the past. There are two boxes fastened to the building – one inside and one out – for birds or bats, possibly. There are other nest boxes around the area and I gather there are a lot of birders that regularly come out this way.
There are a few more pictures on the web, and plenty of talk on various forums. Better off going there in person though.