Monday, 14 December 2015

A Walk: From Church 4 To Platform 2

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:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

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, 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. 

Walker's Log:

    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!

Take care.


  1. I love the storied walk you took. The buildings are lovely and the landscape incredible. When is the next walk?

  2. I am intrigued by the two overlaid patterns criss-crossing the fields in the next-to-last image. Any ideas about what they are, or why those larger, paired marks (equipment tracks?) are at such an odd angle to what look like plow or harrow marks?

  3. I've enjoyed your wonderful walk and like the way you have divided it into four posts so that we can see a little at a time. I love the chapel that was a barn and now a chapel again:)

  4. I really enjoyed and like this series of your walking. While I was looking for the words (in English) to tell why, I read “….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!” I totally agree with you. I love that mysterious but charming hut (the sixth image) and its surroundings.


  5. I'm going on a winter thrush hunt on my next off shift, camera in hand, to a field I've seen them feed in before.

  6. Here is my thought on your mystery building: It started out to be a church then midway through construction became a barn. I like that hunting lodge. Nice place to call home. Great series and I enjoyed how you presented it. Thanks.

  7. Wonderful series! And wonderful walk! I like very much that your travels in the interesting places and that you invite us to see what you saw.

  8. Some interesting buildings - I think you are probably right about that being some sort of shooting lodge. I am really enjoying this trip round the countryside - and in such beautiful weather - wish we had some of it up here.

  9. I enjoyd a lot walking with you trough this lovely landscape.
    Wonderful pohotos and lovely serie.

  10. I enjoyed your walk very much! Someday I hope to visit England and walk some of these beautiful country roads.

  11. whem I visit your country I always admire your churches and simple graveyards masterpiece

  12. Pretty light in photo 1. I really like the bold stripes of the shadows on the field. Don't think I'm too keen on the spikes on corners of St. Mary's.
    The gnarled branches of the big tree in photo 7 look like something an artist would put in his painting to make it more interesting - well, it does make the picture interesting!

  13. What a wonderful walk! I hope you take us on more walks like this. Loved that little church. You're right about the beauty of all those little 'gentle' aspects of the landscape being equally interesting to the spectacular scenes of mountains and coasts. Really enjoyed this.

  14. It makes the walk much more interesting when there is such lovely scenery along the way.

  15. Yes, yes, yes, I have loved seeing what you saw. I love seeing the churches...they are so fascinating. And that shooting lodge...I would love to have it for a quilt studio. And I just love the shot after the shooting lodge... And that lake...looks like the perfect place to spend a few hours fishing and relaxing.

  16. I liked that log at the end. That's a good idea. My oldest son is now hiking a lot in the mountains around his home, sometimes 40-50 miles in a weekend. Your scenery is so restful; I fell in love with that area when we visited. Beauty is found everywhere, and thank you for sharing your very good eye for it with us.

  17. I envy you your centuries of history. The town where I live has comparatively little history; 200 years ago there was nothing here but bald prairie, whereas in your country, one can hardly turn around without falling over something historic. We have lots of space and relatively nothing in it. You on the other hand have lots of things, and not much space. I enjoy your photographs. Thanks for the virtual hike.

  18. Your lake photograph is dazzling, John. I love your walker's notes at the end. No other people just enjoying a walk in the entire 12+ miles? Shame.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).