The turnout of twenty for our January walk was the largest since the group was formed two years ago; twelve of them were new additions to the group – perhaps attracted by the enthusiasm of Mo & Robert at our display table on the recent open day. During the two years we have never walked the same route twice and although some of us had been to Heybridge Basin with the Bird & Wildlife Group, the meeting place here was a first for the Walking Group. Birdwatchers present could enjoy the sight of waders, ducks and geese and, still in residence, the Great Grey Shrike.
From the Basin we pushed our way against a stiff south-westerly wind along the seawall towards Maldon. It was fairly muddy after recent rain but firm enough for us to maintain a fair pace. Views of Maldon and the Thames Barges across the river were as always pleasing to the eye and the bright light of the morning made it more so.
Leaving the seawall we had a section through Maldon via the Causeway but we soon left the traffic behind and gained the footpath beside the River Chelmer, crossing on a footbridge to the western side of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation (the formal name of the Chelmsford – Heybridge Basin canal). Several walkers chose to take the slightly shorter route following the canal directly back to the Basin, whilst the majority continued a short distance westwards. At first we followed the footpath beside the canal but then veered off towards a lake that I personally find very attractive, but I’m not too sure the group was impressed – perhaps they were worried we should be late back for lunch! Crossing a field and the bypass we gained access to a network of footpaths and bridleways that led back to the canal. It’s an interesting section of the canal with factories, bridges, a cemetery and then a quiet section before reaching the moored boats in the Basin.
Some left for home but the remainder enjoyed lunch in the warmth of the Old Ship where the food was good and service prompt, as we had pre-ordered. As always we all enjoyed the cheerfulness and conviviality of the group.
7.5 kms/4.7 miles
Next Walk – February 23rd meet in The Square at Tillingham. 10.00 7.5kms/4.7miles