Flanders & Swann’s song ‘The Hippopotamus’ comes to mind when thinking about this walk and although no one actually wallowed in the mud two members did have a half-hearted attempt to do so. It is the first walk we have started in rain but in spite of this 13 enthusiastic walkers (including one new member to the group) donned the appropriate clothing and having ordered lunch at the Rettendon Bell PH, set off.
We followed a delightful narrow footpath that climbed steadily northwards. Underfoot the ground was smothered in fallen oak leaves and acorns that gave the feeling of walking through ancient woodland. Further on the path emerged onto open farmland and we disturbed firstly a pheasant and then almost immediately, a fox. With the abundance of acorns squirrels were everywhere prancing along the branches and avoiding us.
The rain gradually eased and turned to drizzle, which obscured the views we would have had from the hilltops.
In one field a sculpture of a horse drew our attention and in the nearby garden a large sculptured dog sat beneath a tree looking up into it where a football had been placed – some thought it was a dog baying to the moon and others simply a dog wanting his ball to drop to the ground. Close by stood a tree decorated with numerous blue glass bottles hanging on strings.
Then came the first of the muddy stretches; for the most part the mud could be avoided on this path but later on there were no alternatives and, as the paths were bridleways, had been well and truly churned up. We met a group of five walkers who had met at Liverpool Street Station, had caught the train to Battlesbridge and were doing a 10-mile circuit – they all at one time worked for the London Underground and had been meeting for the past 15 years. They warned of mud ahead, which actually wasn’t as bad as the mud they would soon be encountering.
Climbing beside Mark’s Farm we had a chance to clean our boots in the grass field but this was a short respite as the next field, planted with crops that were being enjoyed by Canada and greylag geese, was also muddy. Fortunately the mud was not of the type that clings and becomes huge balls of mud but fell off our boots quite easily. By now the drizzle had ceased and the clouds were lifting to give us a view in the distance of our destination.
We arrived back still laughing and chattering and, joined by 3 other people, were served promptly and enjoyed a good and ample lunch.
Next Walk – Tuesday 24th April meet 10.00 Cricketers Arms, Penny Royal Road, Danbury Common. Please park in the car park on the opposite side to the pub and slightly down the hill – pub will be open for us to pre-order lunch. Prompt start.
Hopefully the bluebells will be out. An undulating walk.