It seems that luck is on our side. In June we walked after rain the previous day and this month was the same except that it was after torrential rain the previous day. Expecting the worst underfoot we were pleasantly surprised to find that on the recently harvested fields, where we had expected mud, the terrain remained firm.
Meeting at the General’s Arms we failed to rouse the landlord to pre-order our lunch as had been arranged and with reports that the pub was not too good we had misgivings about our lunch venue – but we were committed, so set off. The first part of the walk was a long stretch heading west at first passing houses, a playing field and a small private school and then down a pleasant narrow track. Once through the trees we could see the outskirts of Chelmsford ahead (and hear the traffic noise of the A12). We paused to look at an old oak tree that had a thick dead branch shaped like a dragon’s head and noticed growing nearby on the trunk of another tree the edible but unappetising looking, Jew’s Ear fungus.
Turning north we came to the first large field, which in turn led into a fruit farm. Trees were laden with apples and delicious looking Victoria plums. The farm does PYO for the plums and the picking season has just begun. A short way further on beside a cottage, soft yellow fruits were in a box to help yourself so we ate a few of these. After another field we descended to the path beside the canal, which we followed to Paper Mill Lock where we paused briefly.
Above us the clouds were thickening and it looked likely that we were in for a soaking. The downside of having started a walk with a long descent is that at some point you have to ascend and a short way beyond the lock we started to climb.
It was a varied, gentle climb passing through fields, driveways, meadows and finally a small wood. Looking back we could see the extent of our ascent and also views stretching north.
We reached the pub before the rain, were welcomed by the landlord, seated at a comfortable table, were served quickly, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal.
We had some amusement in the pub trying out David’s new App, which is supposed to identify birdsong by recording it for 10-12 seconds – quite a long time for a bird to sing. Previously I had recorded five birdcalls, a moorhen, greenfinch, whitethroat, reed warbler and blackcap all of which I played to David’s App. It correctly identified only one – the greenfinch – the rest were so far out that we gave the App a thumbs down but it caused some hilarity so I suppose it was worth its price of £1.49 for that! [In the apps defence I have since found a note that says it has trouble recognising ‘recorded’ sounds – it needs the real thing. This may be a cop out but anyway I have really gone for bust and purchased an upmarket one for £2.99; however I have the feeling that whatever one pays the technology just isn’t there yet! Watch this space. DG]
Next walk (4th Tuesday monthly)
Tuesday 22nd September – Meet 10.00 at the Prince of Wales PH, Stow Maries 7kms/4.4miles