Having got permission to park in their car park this walk started from St Bartholomew’s Church, Wickham Bishops. It was a large group of 21 walkers that set off on this fine morning firstly along a quiet country lane and then through footpaths and woodland to a golf course. The golfers waited for us patiently as we walked past and we exchanged pleasantries with them. The route through the golf course follows beside a narrow stretch of the River Blackwater where water birds hid amongst the vegetation.
Leaving the golf course we crossed under a bridge, a scheduled ancient monument that formerly carried the Maldon to Witham Railway Line that operated from 1846 to 1964. This bridge is a rare example of a wooden trestle viaduct, is of national importance, and apparently it is the last surviving example of this type of structure within England.
A short distance away in a bend of the River Blackwater is the site of the original village, Wickham, which was situated close to mills (now gone) and of which the remote St Peter’s Church was an important part of the community. Built in the 11th century the church is now redundant as a church and is cared for by the Friends of Friendless Churches; in 1977 it won an award for its restoration. We were able to look at the exterior but the door was padlocked.
We passed many fine period houses and also new builds of immense proportions. Orchards used to extend widely in this area but today few remain but we did pass through a small remaining patch of old gnarled trees.
Nearing the last section of the walk we dropped down on a footpath that circuited pasture. It then led uphill through private woodland where recently fallen leaves littered the ground and with satisfaction we could shuffle through kicking the leaves aside in childish fashion. As we neared the end of the walk drizzle started to fall and soon turned to rain – how lucky we were to end this delightful walk with a good lunch in the Green Man, Little Braxted where fires burning in the lounges welcomed us.