The first walk of the New Year started with a new venue, The Quart Pot, Runwell where 20 walkers gathered awaiting the landlord’s arrival. The pub’s staff were busy in the kitchen at the rear and summoned the landlord for us who opened the door. He appeared edgy because we were more in numbers than I had said previously and this put him in a ‘tizz’. The problem was he had a wake to cater for, some 50 people, and we were all arriving for lunch at the same time and he was unsure as to where to seat us. He mellowed, took our orders, and indicated the tables we would have and all was well.
Four new members joined us today and once introduced to the rest we set off west across the adjacent large playing field. A short stretch of pavement led us to an unmade road and then onto footpaths across the fields. We were lucky to have kindly farmers who kept a wide stretch of grass between the edge of the field and the cultivated parts, as after the recent days of rain the fields were muddy. On two occasions we should have followed the paths directly across these fields but we took the cleaner route around the edges [If you study the OS map towards the end of this report you can see this quite clearly. DG], but even so we all became slightly mud spattered.
The land around Runwell is not flat and we climbed gently reaching the dizzy height of almost 79m (as marked by a concrete cone on the ground and a trigonometric point on the map). These small climbs afforded us views east and south and later ahead of us to the west, and a glimpse of Hanningfield Reservoir.
The halfway point of the walk came at West Hanningfield where it was intended we walk down to the banks of the reservoir but the road to it was closed for works. Instead we paused on a grassed area for a photo opportunity.
Once again footpaths and fields took us up and down and we arrived back into Runwell passing along a lane bordered with bungalows and caravans that I would have avoided if I could; but there wasn’t another route. We were very pleased to find that the guard dogs of various shapes and sizes were securely fenced in and that we didn’t encounter any of the occupants of the bungalows or caravans.
We all returned muddy and happy but at least crossing the playing field once more we had an opportunity to clean our boots in the wet grass.
The pub did well; our drinks were laid out and waiting for us and we had hardly had a sip when the food arrived. The wake filled two-thirds of the pub and we the remaining third so it was noisy and lively.
8 kms/5 miles
Next Walk – Tuesday 27th February 10.00 – at the Bell, Rettendon Common CM3 8DY (about 5 miles). Park in the large car park at the rear and pre-order food.