Wednesday December 9th was as nice a day as you can hope to get at this time of year so I didn't have much trouble persuading my legs to take me out for a walk. It was a circular walk to the south of Newport in Essex and I've been feeding it to you, in what I hope are digestible chunks over the last four days.
If you've missed it you can catch up by going to these links:
Part 1: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-darkness-to-light.html
Part 2: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-beautiful-to-ugley.html
Part 3: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-motorway-to-byway.html
Part 4: http://bystargooseandhanglands.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-walk-from-peacock-tail-to-rook-end.html
We finished last time loitering in a magical little wood just north of the hamlet of Rook End. Although you'd never guess it we're very close to Debden church, we just have a short walk alongside an arable field.
Long shadows were already being thrown by the low winter sun, even though it was only early afternoon.
St Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Debden, is the fourth church we've passed today and stands a little apart from the village in its beautifully tranquil churchyard. Unfortunately there were builders working inside the church so I'll have to look inside on another occasion. It's a rather unusual structure in that it's quite a grand building but with a rather modest wooden spire; old pictures show it with an elegant steeple.
Down a narrow path I came across this disused building though what it is remains rather a mystery. It's the sort of time when you hope an old man, wearing Wellington boots and pushing his bicycle, will appear around the corner and tell you the complete history of the building, the whole village and what he got up to when he was a young lad. But, alas, no rustic sage was on hand. The building stands by a small stream but there was no evidence that water-power was part of the story. It's called "barn" on some maps but doesn't really look like one. If I had to hazard a guess......no, I really don't know.
Quite close by is what appears to be an ornamental lake, not an unusual feature on old estates.
My path then climbed up on a rough track through woodland and there, right at the edge of the wood was this strange little building which might be a some sort of shooting lodge. Again I really don't know.
Leaving the wood the view ahead shows the open arable country that's characteristic of large parts of East Anglia. The track to the right would lead me towards Waldegraves Farm.
These big round bales, with their plastic wrapping blowing in the wind, made an unusual subject for my camera. They may well contain "haylage", a high-quality, low-moisture kind of silage made especially for feeding horses, as there is an equestrian business based at the farm.
The farm itself looked a prosperous, modern business (though you'll never get a farmer to admit that he's prosperous). On the other hand, as my father frequently pointed out "You never see a farmer riding a bike".
A long, downhill track then led me back to Newport, where I had started from some six hours and twelve and a half miles before. The path featured many of those wonderful, but often unphotographable, wide far-reaching panoramas that both thrill and frustrate the photographer in equal measure.
When I get to Newport, I thought, I'll spend some time exploring the area. When I got to Newport though I jumped straight on the first train to take me home.
Start: Newport, Essex 08.00
End: Newport, Essex 14.10
Distance walked: 12.5 miles (20 Km)
Notable birds: Buzzard, Skylark, Bullfinch, flock of Fieldfares, flock of Yellowhammers.
Mammals: Rabbit, Grey Squirrel.
Churches: Rickling, Quendon, Ugley, Debden. Also St Helen's Chapel at Wicken Bonhunt.
People with dogs: 10
Dogs with people: 14
People just enjoying a walk: 0
Cyclists: 2, one very sensibly pushing her bike up a hill!
Horse riders: 0
I hope you've enjoyed the walk. I presented it in this way - 12.5 miles spread over 5 posts - to emphasise just how much there is to see in these overcrowded islands. I could easily have found more if I'd had a mind to; I didn't really explore Quendon or Debden and I by-passed Widdington entirely, to say nothing of Newport. I saw quite a few birds, but don't have the equipment to photograph them for you. Undoubtedly at other times of year there'd be many wild flowers to show you. I hope that those reading this blog will begin to realise that though this landscape may lack some of the glory of other parts of the world, no mountains, spectacular coast or even extreme weather, it's rich with history and interest. More story than glory!