Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Walk: From Motorway To Byway

December 9th, 2015, was a day of glorious winter sunshine that tempted me out for a walk in the Essex countryside. I've been showing you my progress over the last two days so we'd better get moving again. Is your rucksack packed and your boots laced?

You can see the first part of the walk here:

And the second part here:

We're leaving the village of Ugley, which wasn't ugly. "Pretty Ugley" you could call it! But now we have to cross the M11 motorway which is a lot less attractive. Luckily there's a bridge for us to pass under so we don't have to risk our lives. Then we turn off our minor road to an even more minor road, though we're not clear of the twenty-first century just yet.

The road that we're following is one of those that gradually peters out; road becomes lane, the lane becomes a track, the track becomes little more than a path. Two cars passed me in the space of a minute but then nothing else. Must have been the rush-hour!

On the right hand side of the road, as I walked up it, there's what appears to be a ditch flowing with clear water. In fact it's the headwaters of the River Cam on its way to Cambridge and thence to the North Sea. We're going to follow it almost up to its source.

The track goes as far as the farm up ahead. It's so quiet up here that it's hard to realise that big trucks are thundering along the motorway just a couple of miles away. 

Some of the farm buildings have seen better days, though other parts of the operation seemed modern and efficient.

The path was far from smooth and efficient though! Actually after this tricky section the conditions underfoot improved and I was able to wander along taking notice (and photographs) of all the little details that enrich such a walk.

The mild autumn we've had this year means that we're still in the fungi season. I'm pretty certain that these are Shaggy Ink Caps, though fungi are notoriously difficult to identify. (See Louise's comment below for a more informed opinion).

A fallen log in the "river"  reminded me of an elephant! I must be getting tired to start hallucinating this early in the day.

These are the berries of a plant called Black Bryony climbing up in clockwise spirals. A welcome splash of colour in the hedgerows.

These I really can't identify. They were growing on a rotten tree stump beside the path.

A small flock of sheep in a field - a rare sight in the arable lands of East Anglia these days. On the map I can see we're getting near to places called Mole Hall and Swaynes Hall, but they'll have to wait till tomorrow.

How's the old feet? I'm taking this walk very slowly for you. I hope you're enjoying some of the variety to be found in this little corner of England. See you tomorrow.

Take care.


  1. Time to notice the little things is the best time of all.

  2. Oh, i'm enjoying this walk that goes on for days! How are your own feet? It feels like you've been walking for three days already!

  3. That tree stump looks rather less benevolent that an elephant

  4. "...the River Cam on its way to Cambridge" I guess there is a bridge over the river hence the name for the town that sprung up around that bridge? I love the fungi fotos. I haven't seen any here yet. So, how many miles have we walked so far? Feet aren't sore but I'll feel it later on today.

  5. A lovely walk.

    Those mushrooms do look like some kind of inkcap, but they're not shaggy - shaggy ones have an alternative common name of lawyer's wigs -

    The ones you saw might be Coprinellus micaceus, but as you say they can be so hard to identify, I'm just having a guess and I'm probably wrong!

  6. I am so enjoying this walk John.
    This morning, my friend and I were in our favourite cafe having a scone and a coffee when we got chatting to the folk on the next table, who were just going back from a week's holiday up here to their home in Cambridge. I told them about your blog and the beautiful villages you show us.

  7. All so beautiful!
    Exciting to see the infant Cam.

  8. I'm happy you're taking us along with you on your walks. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  9. This weather seems to be very beautiful for walking. I like how your route passes through different landscapes.

  10. I'm enjoying this walk, seeing bits of nature we often miss when we are in more of a hurry.

  11. I saw the elephant, too! Before I even read your comment. GMTA...or so it is said. I love that shot with those red berries.

  12. That barn isn't still standing! Amazed that the 'ditch' is actually a river. I'd not have realised that.


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!).