Sawbridgeworth and the Stort
It was a bright Sunday 17th March when we met at Sawbridgeworth station for Trevor’s walk. The sun shone and the wind, though brisk, was pleasant.
Off we went along the towpath by the River Stort. Quite a few houseboats were by the river’s edge although nobody could be seen. The towpath was muddy but that was insignificant as the weather changed dramatically. At one moment we would have our hats off, jackets half undone and the next minute we would be cowering from a hailstorm. It is true that in England you can have all four seasons in one hour. We did! When the weather was good we were able to look around and see signs of spring everywhere, from buds on trees to already flowering forsythia. We saw a small creature swim across the river but it was too swift for us to identify and it hid in the river bank.
Inevitably on a seven mile walk a comfort break was required but squatting amongst brambles is not the way. No names but the shrieks could be heard for a hundred yards.
We had our packed lunches at Thorley Church, in their well maintained churchyard. It even had a table and chairs for us plus, big bonus, the church hall was open so we could use their loo. Eileen brought out a cake that was left over from her church do the previous evening and we all voted it a very good cake, as did the robin that kept us company.
On with the walk, through a former WW11 airfield. We stopped for a moment which allowed me to take a photo of us standing in sunshine with a black cloud looming behind. That black cloud was to come over us later. We struggled to find the path about here as the land seemed to be owned by a paintball firm. Eventually we made our way through and then, as we crossed an open field with no shelter, that black cloud hit us. Horizontal hailstones! All of us now had wet trousers but wet only on the right side where the hail lashed us.
We passed a building which housed, according to a sign outside, members belonging to the NFBA. Never heard of it? The clue was in the other organisation listed, the Herts and Essex Cricket Academy. Batsman could be heard facing up to fast bowling in readiness for the new season. I never knew there was a National Fast Bowling Academy.
Getting tired now, we elected to go straight back to Sawbridgeworth station with a plan to stop in a pub if we found one. Alas, there was no pub open on late Sunday afternoon in March on our route and, unrefreshed, we dragged our weary bodies back to the station to make our way home.
Brian U., 17th March 2019