Twenty-one of us enjoyed the warm, sunny, autumnal weather. From the Prince of Wales we left via the back entrance where preparations were in progress for this coming weekend’s Halloween festivities. A marquee was being erected and a small bonfire topped with a wooden clinker built boat, complete with mast and dressed with flags, was waiting to be lit.
The footpath from here leads to a field recently harrowed, as many on this walk had been, and with an indistinct path we made our way steeply up and over. We were fortunate it was dry as this, and the other fields would have caused slow going. The high point afforded extensive views over the River Crouch at South Woodham Ferrers, down river and across to the buildings in Southend-on-Sea. We were spot on with the footpath and joined the extension of it as it went steeply downhill on grass, losing all the height we had gained, and then climbed gently through a vineyard to the corner of Hawes Wood which we walked beside, leaving it on our right.
A short stretch along a quiet road took us past Edwins Hall and through the paddocks of Edwins Hall Farm. We were slightly delayed by a broken style but all made it across – interesting to see the variety of methods that were used by different people in tackling it.
Another harrowed field to cross and again without a clearly marked footpath, but it was easy and we descended to a gap in the hedge and then took a diagonal to the corner of the field. This corner lies adjacent to the Bell at North Woodham. We turned north and east following beside more paddocks and then made our way across land interspersed with trees and many tracks that criss-crossed, making navigation difficult. In fact those trailing in the group had to call for help but were pleased with themselves for picking up signs of broken grass and claimed they had used that as tracking skills and so find us. Previously I had made an arrow out of sticks, as the turn off one of the paths was not clear so from then on those in the lead left arrows for the ones behind – all in good fun and nobody got lost!