We woke to heavy rain, which turned to drizzle that died away before the group set off from the Prince of Wales PH, Stow Maries. But the forecast wasn’t promising with rain due to fall most of the day, some heavy, and it wasn’t long before our waterproofs were put to the test. This was the first wet walking day we have had since the group started in March 2014.
The first section of the walk followed a footpath, crossed a wooden footbridge and climbed on to the former railway line, a pleasant track amongst the trees and quite firm underfoot. The footbridge though was not easy as the rain had made it slippery and we had to traverse it cautiously, walking sideways and helping each other. Further footbridges and stiles were equally difficult due mostly to the wet. Some of the stiles had sloping steps and others narrow widths with high top bars, (too high for our short legs to cross easily), and some both – each had its own problems but fortunately there were no mishaps; in fact the only mishap came later in the morning when a member slipped on the mud but was none the worse for the tumble, although very muddy.
Leaving the railway line we crossed a road and followed meandering tracks, lined with hedges and gently climbed to open farmland. This open space afforded views where the River Crouch, east of South Woodham Ferrers, could be glimpsed. Hedges were to be a prominent feature of the walk as the bushes were laden with ripe hips, sloes and blackberries and looked delightfully autumnal. We ate the blackberries as we walked and also gathered some for later use. Reaching Hawes Wood we turned west and shortly joined a road that led beside Edwins Hall. Not much can be seen from the road but the house is said to be the remaining part of a much larger, late 16th century moated house, and to have been built by Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York. Most of the moat remains and there are parts of an outer moat. It’s quite a high point here and looking south we could see to South Woodham Ferrers and beyond.
Had it not been for the forethought of the landowner here to keep his horses well fenced in with wide footpaths between the paddocks, we would have had to encounter some rather frisky looking animals. The first of the muddy fields came shortly after and we laughed as the mud stuck and our boots got heavier and heavier – by the time we reached the third such field the laughter had all but gone!
Another stretch of footpath we encountered ran straight between hedges and small trees and scuttling ahead of us were young pheasants not knowing which way to turn to escape. This path led back to Hawes Wood where we turned to walk down a hill and from the bottom climbed up beside grape vines to our highest viewpoint
The last part of the walk was on a narrow grass pathway, through a dark tunnel of bushes and on to land behind the pub, which we accessed through a back gate. The warmth of open fires was welcome as was the delicious soup and amply filled ciabatta rolls.
Next walk (4th Tuesday monthly)
Tuesday 27th October – Meet 10.00 at the Bell PH, Woodham Walter, 7kms/4.5miles