Sunday, 1 November 2015
By Rib And Quin
Autumn this year has been either wet and gloomy, not tempting me out at all. Or else bright and sunny, rather like Satchmo strutting down Twelfth Street with his trumpet catching the golden sunlight and scattering light across the land. But this morning, as I jumped off the bus at Thundridge to begin my walk, the mist had rolled down to obscure the dawn.
The soft, muted tones of Miles Davis perhaps. Quiet and reflective and kind of blue. It has a beauty all its own. When Capability Brown was employed to landscape part of this area he complained that it was so lovely that there was not much left for him to do.
Those of you who like the absurdity of English place names will be pleased to hear that we are in the vicinity of the hamlet known as Cold Christmas - you can't get much dafter than that! Local children with spray cans have great fun adding ....pudding! to the road signs.
We've also passed a fascinating ruined church which we'll look at in a later instalment, but for now let's make our way through Sawtrees Wood in the company of a friendly man with two friendly dogs, one of which spent a lot of time crouched at my feet trying to encourage me to throw a stick for him.
Our paths diverged down by the River Rib whose valley I'm following all morning. It's only a tiny stream but until recently had often caused problems by flooding after periods of heavy rainfall.
A rare steepish climb led up out of the valley and on to paths along the edge of arable fields.
A shooting party were banging away at the poor, unfortunate pheasants. I had a stone in my boot and needed a swig from my water bottle - unbelievably there was a bench beside the path right where I wanted it to be.
Into the picturesque village of Standon next. We'll turn around through 180 degrees and wander into the church in the next post, but for now I need to search the residential streets for the footpath that will lead me on towards Braughing. Aha! There it is.
The sun is making a valiant attempt to push aside the clouds and bathe the land in its light, though actually I'm enjoying this quiet, gentle weather. The path looks like an old railway line and the map confirms my suspicion. If more proof be needed then look to the photo below....
It must be rather special to have a railway station in your back garden and the dweller in the old stationmaster's house has made a fine job of preserving some of the essential features while still having a pretty garden. In fact you'll find that the whole village is very attractive; a place to explore more fully another time.
Braughing has one of those names guaranteed to baffle the outsider, though the name is fairly well-known locally as the place where Braughing sausages were produced. So in case you're ever passing through, or indeed wanting to order the bangers, then it's "Braffing" that you need to ask for.
I could have ended my walk there but as the weather was so grand now I decided to press on over the fields. We're now in the valley of the River Quin by the way.
The village of Little Hormead looks very prosperous and well-ordered. Just as I was leaving the village I was approached by a man, "You're the smartest man I've seen terday", he exclaimed - not what I was expecting to hear in my muddy trousers and wet boots. "Why's that?" I asked. "Out enjoying this fine day," he said, "last day of October too. Where have you come from?" I explained my route for him. "Well, bless me, you could walk home from here!"
That was the least sensible suggestion I'd heard for a while. "Good idea!" I said, though I had no intention of doing anything of the kind. And so it was that I made my rather weary way down a beautiful back road to Hare Street and the bus home.
Start: Thundridge, Hertfordshire 08.45
End: Hare Street, Hertfordshire 15.05
Distance walked: 12.5 miles (20 Km)
Notable birds: Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Buzzard, Red Kite, Skylark, Kestrel,Little Egret.
Mammals: Rabbit, Stoat, Fallow Deer.
Churches: Thundridge Old Church, Standon, Braughing, Little Hormead.
People with dogs: 3
Dogs with people: 5
People just enjoying a walk: 4
Horse riders: 1