Flanders & Swann’s song ‘The Hippopotamus’ comes to mind when thinking about this walk and although no one actually wallowed in the mud, Tony gave it his best try on two occasions and none of us returned ‘mud free’. Up until the previous evening the ground had been hard but overnight rain put an end to that and walking over the fields the mud clogged on our boots making walking quite hard as our feet became larger and heavier.
From The Bell, Purleigh 18 of us set off happily descending south, crossed a slippery stile and traversed the first of the fields. At first some cleaned their boots thinking there would be no further mud – little did they know! It was to be a day of views and our first was looking back at Purleigh church on its hilltop position. From this point we could also see our route and looked to see if any latecomers were trying to catch us up; as expected there were none, as the members of this group are always punctual.
Criss-crossing fields we arrived at Cold Norton and took the delightful footpath up to St Stephen’s church; from where there was another fine view looking back towards Maldon. Then crossing the road the view changed to that of the River Crouch in the south. Down and up we went reaching the disused railway line, which we followed to the first road and took that for a short distance before turning onto the footpath crossing the Three Rivers Golf Course. There were only a few golfers playing so no hazards to deal with.
Passing Stow Maries church (our third church of the day and all quite different in style) we headed in a westerly direction with the longest climb of the day, a climb that is always harder than it looks, – but from the top, once again looking back, some more expansive views. Through a vineyard and our last muddy field, a short stretch of road and our (almost) last ascent of the day. The view from this high point is the best on the walk and today’s clear weather made it perfect. From here you can see Maldon and the River Blackwater, pick out the Bradwell Power Station, look towards the River Crouch and about a kilometre away, our destination – always a welcome sight.
Due to the mud and slow progress over the stiles we were back 20-minutes late and were all ready to eat our lunch, which came promptly and was devoured in no time.
Next Walk: Tuesday, February 26th; ‘Where ‘ere you walk’ – TBA