Five of us met at Chelmsford to reach Great Waltham village by bus on a warm, sunny day, for the eight miles trek to White Notley: Stage Four of the Essex Way. Although the villages around here have historic buildings we did not linger except to admire Chatham Hall near the start, and use the loos in the elegant Square and Compasses at Fuller Street. This walk traversed broad fields and tunneled through green lanes, with intermittent views of the wide undulating landscape. In the second half we followed the River Ter for some way, then crossed commanding power lines, then returned to the river as it approached a dramatic ford near Terling. In this last village we found the Owl’s Hill teashop, offering a pleasant break before we pushed on through the final 2.5 miles of field paths to White Notley. The wide variety of village cottages, some thatched, some pargetted, illustrated the range of East of England domestic architecture, and their yellow and pink rendering made colourful street scenes. Among the graveyards we walked past or through was one by a great house devoted to its departed dogs.
Next walk Thursday 15 June: Stage 5 White Notley to Coggeshall (8 mi)
This walk offers much of interest in the first and last miles (medieval barns and an abbey mill) while presenting rather predictable farmland between these. We will aim to meet at Liverpool Street Stn ticket office at 9.30 before taking the 9.48 to White Notley (arr 10.41) with Stratford pick-up at 9.55. Assuming that we make the late medieval market town of Coggeshall by around 15.30 we will visit Paycocke’s house (NT: £7) for look-around plus afternoon tea. Trains back to reach London leave half-hourly from either Marks Tey (reached by bus) or Kelvedon (shared taxi) taking an hour direct. Stage 6 (10 mi) on Thurs 29 June will take us on from Coggeshall to West Bergholt and Colchester.