Thankfully the day’s rain showers stayed away for the duration of our walk and there was even blue sky showing to the west; later in the morning we had the bonus of a burst of sunshine.
Leaving the Royal Oak PH in Hazeleigh, and with its usual enthusiasm the group set off and was soon walking on quiet footpaths. The first ran beside a small water feature, which almost seemed, or perhaps was, part of someone’s garden; it had interesting plants and attracted many birds. Crossing fields we reached the section that was to form the main part of the walk, the former Maldon to Woodham Ferrers railway line. This line ran from Maldon’s West Station and was opened in October 1889 just four months after the Crouch Valley Line. During the Second World War passenger services were withdrawn although it continued to be used for goods traffic until1953 when the line was closed completely. Now the Essex Wildlife Trust manages this section of the line, named Maldon Wick Reserve.
Due to it being a Nature Reserve the vegetation has been left to develop in a natural way with a central walking track kept open and which meandered slightly to avoid overhanging trees and bushes. We walked south to where the Reserve ended and farmed land began; it was interesting how different it looked, as we could see the absolutely straight direction and width of the former line. We then returned north. The Reserve was a delight with violets, primroses and plenty of birdsong and was also easy walking being both dry and flat. There were visible remains of bridges that passed over brooks and one in particular looked to be in sound condition.
Leaving the track and heading west we crossed fields leading to the busy Maldon to Woodham Mortimer road, which we crossed, climbed over a stile and walked beside fishing lakes. It was preferable to look at the lakes and the fields beyond where Swans fed rather than look at the adjacent lay-by with its abundance of litter. Following bridleways we arrived at the busy roundabout near Morrisons Supermarket where another group member joined us. We quickly returned to the quiet paths passing near a lake and then back onto the railway line. Here we headed south, crossed fields and returned to the Royal Oak for lunch. 7kms/4.4miles
Next walk (4th Tuesday monthly)
NOTE earlier time
April 28th – Meet 9.40 Danbury, Mayes Lane Car Park which is south of Eves Corner, the main crossroad in Danbury, 150 metres on the right 8.8kms/5.5miles.
For those who would like a shorter walk of 6.8kms/4.2miles please contact group leader.