Having got permission to park in their car park this walk started from St Bartholomew’s church, Wickham Bishops. An undulating terrain took us through woods, narrow pathways, across a golf course (where the golfers waited patiently for our straggling group of 15 to pass), beside a narrow stretch of the River Blackwater, past fine houses, close to a mill mentioned in the Domesday Book, meadows and orchards.
On the golf course beside the river flocks of geese, a swan and other water birds took to the water as we approached and swam in nervous groups until we passed.
Leaving the golf course we crossed under a bridge, a scheduled ancient monument, that formerly carried the Maldon to Witham Railway Line that operated from 1846 to 1964 (a nostalgic moment for one group member whose grandfather was a train driver on this line). This bridge is a rare example of a wooden trestle viaduct, is of national importance, and apparently it is the last surviving example of this type of structure within England.
A short distance away in a bend of the River Blackwater is the site of the original village, Wickham, which was situated close to mills (now gone) and of which the remote St Peter’s Church was an important part of the community. Built in the 11th century the church is now redundant as a church and is cared for by the Friends of Friendless Churches; in 1977 it won an award for its restoration. We were able to look at the exterior but the door was padlocked.
After the heat of the morning, and nearing the end of the walk, it was refreshing to pass through a preserved wood with a dense canopy. Ants had built huge mounds and on one they were busy repairing the top carrying leaves and grasses many times their own weight and size. Those at the front of the walking group must have disturbed another nest as thousands of ants had emerged ready for attack and were running everywhere – we passed quickly!
This delightful walk was rounded off with a good lunch in the Chequers.
Next Walks – Tuesday 26th July 9.50 am meet at Southminster Rail Station – (catch.the D4 bus that leaves the Clock Tower at 9.30), for a leisurely 5kms/3mile walk back to Burnham. Sheila Neary (tel 782839) will be leading the walk.
Tuesday August 23rd meet Blackwater Bar & Bistro, Maylandsea 10.00 8kms/5miles.