On a misty November morning with a chill in the air, eighteen of us met at The Bell, Woodham Walter. Having efficiently ordered our lunch we were on our way shortly after 10.00
This circular, clockwise walk started heading north through the Wilderness, a small patch of woodland between the village and farmland. It is a delightful stretch with a stream flowing through it, ferns on its banks and a variety of trees. The footpath is clearly well-trodden and we quickly passed through and arrived at a road near to Blue Mill. We turned east and at the tiny Cats pub followed a footpath over farmland. Here we came upon a skull of, most likely, a muntjac deer as it had horns, but a long tooth of the type used for tearing meat, confused the identification. I read later that the male deer does have large canines, which they use to fight rivals that enter their territory – mystery solved.
Climbing gently over farmland heading south we should have had good views behind us across the Chelmer & Blackwater valley but the mist, that continued to hang low, prevented that.
We paused at the point where on the map it reads “Woodham Walter Hall” (remains of). We were actually standing on a flat-topped mound and the remains have long gone but we discussed where the building could have been, were we standing on it? One member suggested that the area around the mound could have been a moat and in fact the British Listed Building website indicates that there was a moat of a roughly square plan and encloses a mound to the southeast of where the building once stood. It mentions also fishponds that date back to the 13th century that lie on the eastern side. Archaeological research is necessary so perhaps a project for the future for our Archaeology Group.
After a few twist and turns we entered Thrift Wood where grey squirrels had a feast of chestnuts and acorns and where we walked shuffling the fallen autumn leaves as we went.
We had made good time so rather than arrive back early at the pub we made a detour passing beside two reservoirs and going through another small wood before regaining the footpath crossing the Warren Golf Course. Friendly golfers waited whilst we crossed and as we did so the sun found its way through the mist, which cheered us all, and the thought of our lunches waiting for us gave us a bounce in our step as we made the final descent.
NOTE: No walk in December but there will be a walk in early January 2019 in addition to our usual one. Watch this space.