Our second walk with the London Blind Ramblers this year, this time the ‘elite’ section who wanted a longer and more challenging walk than they normally do. Pam obliged with a walk advertised as 11.2 miles and undulating, and nine (not very elite) Poly Ramblers turned out last Sunday to guide and support the group. Pam was relieved to find that we had sufficient Poly guides for the blind walkers. We soon arrived at Knockholt and set off along the edge of a golf course at a brisk pace. This continued through fields and woodland paths with quite a few steepish uneven paths to negotiate, and many, many stiles. At one point we had excellent views of the City of London. i would describe the route we took but to be honest I had little idea where we were! We did pass through a village called Pratts Bottom about two miles in and stopped for lunch in another village called Downe, which has two pubs. After a hurried sandwich lunch on picnic benchesin a squally shower we repaired to the pubs and sat in the sunshine with our drinks. At this point we had done 5.5 miles and naively thought we were half way. The walk continued in a mixture of sunshine and showers as we ascended, descended and climbed a stile every few hundred metres. I don’t know if anyone counted the stiles – there must have been at least 40. Harriet in particular became expert in describing stile height and layout to her unsighted companion.
By 4pm we thought we must be getting near 11 miles but Pam announced that there was another hour and three quarters walking to do. Everyone was getting tired by now but we soldiered on cheerfully, up and down hills and over the endless stiles until eventually we were back on the edge of the golf course. By this time the rain had become steady and serious and the group was rather strung out. Pam was determined to get at least some of us on the 17.59 train and about half the group made it while she and the rest followed half an hour later, by this time thoroughly wet and cold. Someone recorded the length as 14.8 miles. I am not sure it was quite this long but it was certainly a challenge and a great walk which we all enjoyed in spite of rain and excessive stiles. Many thanks to Pam.
Photos by Pam
Featured image. Cudham Church Kent. Phillip Caper. CCA 2.0 Generic
From the station, we walked uphill to Manningtree church where we joined the Essex Way which we followed most of the day. We reached the waterfront and followed the Stour estuary to Mistley, famous for its twin church towers and its witch finder. We left the riverside to walk across pastures, woodlands – passing old oaks including Old Knobbley – and wheat fields. We had our picnic lunch in the playing field or the churchyard before having a drink in the Strangers Home pub in Bradfield. We crossed more wheat fields before rejoining the waterfront to Wrabness Nature Reserve. We stopped at Wrabness church with its bell housed in a cage in the churchyard and at a stall selling home-made quiches and brownies. Before reaching the station, we passed Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex. 14 Polyramblers.
After leaving Chigwell we enjoyed a relaxed walk through Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve and its lake onwards up through Buckhurst Hill and then up through the edge of Epping forest and its famous oaks, then onwards to the white timber-framed Elizabethan building which is Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Hunting Lodge, built for King Henry VIII in 1543.
After lunch at The Premier Inn next to the Hunting Lodge, we headed towards the Scout Headquarters at Gilwell Park and the Yardley and Hawk Woods. After reaching a hill overlooking the King George V Reservoir, Enfield we stopped for a beak to admire the view. Finally we descended to Sewardstone Marsh Nature Reserve followed the canal and entered Enfield to reach our final destination at Enfield Lock.
This was pretty much the perfect walk, nearly 15 miles & neatly divided into 3 parts. We left Lewes via a lovely walled garden where children rehearsed for what appeared to be a mediaeval pageant or perhaps, being Lewes something more alternative, & an unusually easy-going cat allowed itself to be played with by a small child & then seemed to join its family on a blanket for a picnic. We then flew – well, something like that – up the first mighty incline onto the South Downs Way & our first glimpse of the sea. The path curved around several deep natural bowls & at 12.30 we came down to Rodmell for lunch at the Abergavenny Arms.
The second part took us over the Ouse & up a very steep hill back onto the ridge. Cooled by a pleasant breeze we kept up a good pace. The tea shop in Glynde closes at 4 so it hadn’t seemed possible for us to make it in time but, encouraged by our fleet-footedness, the leader set off at a run down the hill & through the village to secure a cream tea at the Little Cottage Tea Rooms. They did us proud & we had certainly earned it.
The third part started with another mighty climb back up to the Downs which must have helped work off some of the tea & the beautiful early evening light was a reward for our efforts. With some reluctance – at least in my case – we descended into Lewes again & indulged in a well-earned pint before getting the train back to London.