1st June 2017: Essex Way walk – Great Waltham to White Notley

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 approach​ed 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.​


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18th May 2017: Essex Way 3rd stage, around Chelmsford.

Our group resumed its Essex Way project with this pleasant trek to the NW of Chelmsford. Beginning at Pepper’s Green, we walked through barley fields to Good Easter, which holds the world record for daisy chain making; we saw dense scatters of daisies in the churchyard. Pushing on through green lanes to Pleshey, we had a picnic lunch by the moat of the impressive castle, held by the de Mandevilles in Norman times, then a decent beer or cider in the Leather Bottle pub across the road. The last two miles to Great Waltham followed a tree-lined brook, past gravel-pit lakes and copses, then through a wide field of fragrant-flowering broad beans. In good time we reached the village church with its remarkable 14th C gatehouse and a talking bench. Along this way we had noted three distinguished churches and much other heritage of medieval and early modern Essex.

This project will continue along the next six stages of the Essex Way on alternate Thursdays. On Thurs 1 June we will meet at the 42A bus stop in Chelmsford bus station at 10.10 to take the 10.22 back to Great Waltham and walk eight miles to White Notley. Buy a train ticket London to White Notley day return and take 9.30 from Liverpool Street or 9.38 from Stratford. Members of Red Rope are warmly welcomed on these Thursday walks.​


Steve Butters
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14th May 2017: Hassocks circular via Hurstpierpoint

IMG_0511Jonathan led a lovely walk from Hassocks up onto Wollstonbury Hill on the South downs with distant views of Jack and Jill windmills. After lunch on the hillside we headed to the village of Hurstpierpoint and back into Hassocks passing Alpacas and impressive buildings on route.

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27th April 2017: Lost River Fleet

This was the last of the series of Lost Rivers of London walks. Starting from Whitestone Pond, where one branch of the River Fleet rises (another branch starts at Highgate) we made our way across Hampstead Heath passing some of the swimming ponds. Then we walked south through the backstreets to Kentish Town and on to St Pancras churchyard for our lunch stop. Here we looked in Old St Pancras church, and saw the Hardy Tree and the graves of Mary Wollstonecraft and Sir John Soane. Passing between St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, we continued south to Clerkenwell and Farringdon. After viewing the last stretch of our route from Holborn Viaduct, we finished at Blackfriars, where the tide was too high to view the outflow of the Fleet from its drainage pipe, so we returned to the Blackfriars pub for a celebratory drink.

The plan for the summer months is to return to continue the Essex Way, arriving at Harwich in September.

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23rd April 2017: Constable Country

An early start saw a small group assembling at Liverpool Street for the train to Manningtree for a circular walk through Constable country. It was a fine day for a pleasant walk through the countryside and villages painted by John Constable. At Dedham we paused for a lunch break beside the river Stour where we watched the boats taking visitors on a pleasure trip. From here it was across the fields towards Flatford where we took a diversion to East Bergholt to see the church and the bells which are housed separately in the bell house. Outside the pub we found Morris dancing in progress and were pleased to find a former Red Rope member, Miriam who now lives in the village, among the dancers. After welcome tea and cake in the village teashop we made our way back to Flatford Mill, where we were glad to avoid the crowds there. Then it was back to Manningtree for the train, and a slow journey home due to delays. It was a most enjoyable day out.


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16th April 2017: Easter Sunday, Woldingham bluebell walk

Ten of us enjoyed a 6 mile circular walk from Woldingham Station in Surrey. The weather was very kind to us and perfect for our walk. We walked through the attractive Marden Park Woods, popped into St. Agatha’s church, which is claimed to be the smallest and highest church in Surrey and walked through swathes of glorious bluebells in Great Church Wood. 
We stopped for lunch along the route of the North Downs Way from which we could see for miles over the ridges and valleys of the Weald taking in distant views of both the North and South Downs.  We proceeded though more woodland until a break at Godstone Vineyard where a few of us enjoyed cream teas and some sampled the vineyard’s wine. 
The final leg of the walk took us past Woldingham school and next to a field of young calves and their mothers.

Marden woods

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9th April 2017: Chalfont and Latimer to Chesham


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