I was delighted that 17 walkers turned up for this walk although I wasn’t certain they had all taken in what I had said about the mud! Some of them had been rather derogatory on the train about the Essex landscape – riverside flood plain – so they may have been surprised to see the steep street as we left the station! The footpath continued uphill through Benfleet Downs and Hadleigh Country Park, part of which was used for the Olympic Games mountain bike course. The commemorative stones and cycle track could be seen away through the trees. At the beginning of the path we saw a blackthorn in bloom, which seems rather early but then the winter hasn’t been that cold (yet!). No sight of daffodils such as we saw last week nor snowdrops, first spotted on 17th January. As we gained height we were able to see between the trees over towards the Thames and the shores of Kent in the distance. The thin cloud rolled away and we were treated to blue skies all day. At the top of the hill at The Hub there were lots of children taking advantage of the biking trails and play area. We carried on to the rather calmer Hadleigh Farm Tea Rooms for an early lunch which our group described as very tasty and reasonably priced. I can vouch for the carrot cake! The estate of Hadleigh Farm was purchased well over 100 years ago and is still run by the Salvation Army. General Booth intended the colony for ‘the benefit of men who through misfortune need a helping hand’. They were trained in farming activities including livestock, arable, poultry, market gardening and orchards as well as brickmaking. There is a Rare Breeds Centre which can be visited in the summer season.
Nine Polyamblers met at Stratford, despite the drop in temperature and pessimistic weather forecast, for the stroll across the Olympic Park, past the stadium where Danny was watching athletics the week before, and along the thoughtfully renamed Greenway (formerly the Northern Outfall Sewer Cycleway!) to Victoria Park, met by a flock of mini-cyclists wearing yellow high-vis jackets and then through the Old English Garden, past the East Lake and the massive Burdett-Coutts Drinking Fountain to the grassy expanse of the East Park. Continue reading Sunday 28th July Victoria Park Jazz
21 walkers turned out for this unusual walk. Well, it was amazing weather! Sunshine all day, not too cold, no wind. What more could we have asked for! No clouds for Mike to explain to us! Most of the leaves had now fallen, so the forest was carpeted with gold and reddish-brown, soft underfoot as we climbed between the beech trees up to Loughton Camp, an Iron Age hill fort, (~500 BC), possibly used by the Trinovantes in defence against the Catuvellauni tribe. In those days there would have been none of the circles of tall pollarded trees all round us now and it would have been a good lookout point or a fortification for the protection of cattle. Continue reading 18th November. Epping Forest and Forest Bathing
Twelve Polyramblers braved the drizzle, coming from near and far to meet on the edge of Epping Forest. We were lucky with the weather. The drizzle dried up and we even had some sunshine later in the day. We kept gasping at the stunning autumn colours as we puffed up and down the promised undulations! I didn’t see any sloes and only a few bracket fungi and one cluster of possible false death caps (?) but we decided the other fungi must be covered with the thick carpet of copper-coloured leaves (beech, hornbeam, oak etc.). We did see two tree-loads of crab apple windfalls, and some of the group were lucky enough to spot a herd of deer in the forest. Continue reading Saturday 11th November. Epping Forest
Despite the dire weather forecast there were still some stalwart and courageous Polyramblers who turned out for this walk. Contrary to what we had been led to expect, we were rewarded with blue skies and bright sunshine although the wind was keen but that just encouraged us to keep up a good pace. Green shoots were bravely peeping up in the ploughed fields and we were treated to wide open skies and spacious views of the surounding rolling farmland. Continue reading Newport (Essex) circular – Sunday 6th November 2016