After rain the previous day we were fortunate to have a warm and dry day for the June walk. Leaving Stow Maries we made our way northwest through meadow to a high point with splendid views east and south.
We passed beside vineyards and then across a field of beans where the footpath was completely concealed by the crop. Trying at first to avoid trampling the crops we soon realised this was not possible so followed in single file meandering where the plants allowed – a bit of adversity did bring out the best in everyone and there was much laughter as we crossed.
A climb to the northeast took us to a viewpoint with Maldon in the distance, Purleigh Church in the middle distance and views across the farmland toward the site of the Stow Maries aerodrome and beyond. Dropping down from the hilltop we were amazed to see a barn owl hunting, a rarity at this time of day. It swept along the fields adjacent to us on our left and flew towards some barns; a short while later appearing in front of us and following the hedgerow to our right before disappearing in a valley.
As the group were walking well we took a detour to see the site of the motte at Purleigh. Descending over farmland, crossing what now seems to be the inevitable horse field, following narrow footpaths and lastly a lane, we arrived at Cold Norton. From here we climbed to St Stephens Church. Although mentioned in the Doomsday Book the current church was built in 1855; the door was open and so we were able to go inside. From the graveyard we had more fine views to the north. Heading in a generally westward direction across farmland there were more views this time to the south.
The last part of the walk was along the former railway line, which at times passes between the fairways of the golf course. We took the road passing St Mary and St Margaret’s Church in Stow Maries before descending to the Prince of Wales PH where the landlord provided us with an amuse-bouche of swordfish and duck, freshly cooked, or perhaps smoked, from his garden oven. Tired from our 9kms/5.6mile walk we were pleased to relax in comfortable chairs on the patio, enjoyed excellent food, good company and lots of laughter – what a lovely way to spend a morning.
Next walk (4th Tuesday monthly)
Tuesday 28th July – None
Tuesday 25th August Meet 10.00 at the Generals Arms PH, The Ridge, Little Baddow. Length 7.5kms/4.6miles.