After the wet days that preceded this walk we expected some mud but were pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t too bad; even the last field, which had been sown and the crops only just emerging, was ‘friendly’ mud. Leaving Burnham in a slight drizzle the day didn’t seem too promising, and the grey clouds threatened heavier rain. but as we neared Rettendon the skies turned blue and the sun shone. Most of us (11 in all, including two new members to the group) had come prepared for cooler weather and after the first 30 minutes or so, wished we hadn’t put on those extra layers.
Having ordered our food at The Bell we set off a short way east along the road and then joined a bridleway heading south. Then turning east again we headed more or less in that direction following tracks beside the field for almost an hour. The countryside here undulates and after our first climb we could look back and see the fishing lakes we had passed but which had been obscured by hedges and beyond that, the pub and village. The route takes a slight kink at this point and we had to follow a path through thick prickly bushes and brambles – thankfully these had recently been cut back. We encountered the first stile of the day, which was high with metal bars as steps – some climbed over and some squeezed through the bars. The second stile later in the walk also had some difficulty in that the first step was so high that only those with the longest legs could step onto it; the third stile was narrow and sharp bushes attacked our heads! Once over the stile the path joined farmland once more and contouring around more fishing lakes we came to our second view which looked southeast and we could see (just) the upper reaches of the River Crouch as it meandered past Hullbridge to Battlesbridge.
For a short way we followed the Saffron Trail a 70-mile trail that starts in Southend-on-Sea and finishes in Saffron Walden. Passing a well-stocked nursery we reached the South Woodham Ferrers United Football Ground and Meadowcroft Nursery and shortly after turned north passed through farm buildings (converted to light industrial use) and so back on to the tranquillity of farmland fields. The last climb of the day crossed the field of ‘friendly mud’ and at the top we had a pause whilst taking in the extensive views.
Passing beside the millpond of Mill House we descended to the road and so back to the pub. Busy with lunchtime diners we were given a table in a room at the rear; the ample food was served promptly and as usual we all enjoyed animated chatter and are looking forward next time to hearing the next episode of Carole’s adventures!
Next Walk – Tuesday December 27th catch 10.20 train to Althorne, arriving 10.25 and walk back to 9 The Cobbins, Burnham for a drink and light refreshment. 8kms/5miles