Rochford and the Roach Valley Way
On Sunday 10th April a group of eleven EFOG members made the most of a lovely sunny day on an 8 mile walk that started in the small market town of Rochford, so called after Sir Guy Rochefort who was Lord of the manor way back in 1257.
Having made our way through the tiny town centre and across a number of fields we were soon walking along the raised grassy riverbank path of the River Roach.
On our left side we could see in the distance the Saxon Tower of a church at Great Stambridge (which we visited later in the walk), and on the right side the mudflats of the peninsula of Bartonhall Creek which are a popular feasting ground for a number of migrating birds, not much action today but lovely to look at just the same.
We passed some very ancient Essex barns and then proceeded to negotiate two stiles to cross the land of some stables with several paddocks grazing some rather large horses - which we did very respectfully. Not a problem really, but they seem so big up close and you felt that you were intruding in their space.
From here we made our way along the road towards Stambridge, where we made a brief detour to see St Mary and All Saints Church which had the Saxon tower we had seen in the distance earlier on in the walk. We were hoping to go inside and see a renowned memorial stained glass window, placed in the church by the descendants of local resident John Winthrope who sailed to America in 1630 and became the first Governor of Boston.
Unfortunately the church was closed as is the case so often these days.
By now it was time for lunch and we quickly found The Royal Oak where we happily tucked in EFOG style to lunch and liquid refreshment.
Duly fortified, a further 2 miles or so took us across fields back to Rochford.
I think we were very lucky with the weather and although windy in places it was bright and sunny all the way.
Thanks to Eileen for organising a great walk.
Article by Val S., 10th April 2016
Photo by Brian U.
A circular walk in the Rochford area.
Eleven of us met at Rochford on Sunday 10th April 2016 to go on a walk arranged by Eileen. It was a sunny day but the wind bit into you and we were all wrapped up.
A walk through fields led us to the dyke on the River Roach. We followed the dyke, noticing scenes which would look beautiful in a photo album, perhaps in black and white, but were briefly noticed as we cowered from the wind. The tide was out and the usual detritus was visible on the river edges.
A turn to the left put the wind on our backs – much more comfortable – and we progressed on to the Royal Oak pub in Stambridge where we stopped for a bite and drink. The service was excellent despite the fact that they were fully booked for Sunday lunch. Most of us sat outside but some managed to blag a table inside.
Then on through more fields, including a couple occupied by horses that were quite inquisitive. Lynne was in her element here. Then on to an old church with a Saxon tower in Great Stambridge but it was closed so we occupied ourselves looking at the gravestones. Back down the road to the Cherry Tree pub for a warming drink and then on to our cars in Rochford.
Article and photo by Brian U., 10th April 2016
A Sunday stroll by the Lea
Seven of us met at Fishers Green car park on Sunday 3rd April to begin a walk organised and led by Jenny.
Almost immediately as we left the car park we were greeted by the sound of a chiffchaff, presumably recently arrived from Africa, followed by the more tuneful song of a blackcap – perhaps another long-distance arrival although maybe one that had decided to stay on after overwintering? Anyway, it was to distinct sounds of Spring that we began the walk.
Much of the walk to Broxbourne was along the Lea Navigation towpath, so we were treated to the traditional sounds of bicycle bells (or not) coming from behind, and sometimes accompanied by that well-known cry “bike” and sometimes “Oi – slow down”. The latter – it should be clear – was not aimed at us, but more usually by us at them.
At one point on our walk, we could not fail to see two craft moored to the bank. Most peculiar, they were, of orange colour and a somewhat unflattering shape which reminded me very much of that craft which was discovered at Hobbs Lane underground station. You'll doubtless remember that (or not)... the Central Line was being extended and the excavations at the station revealed what at first was thought to be an unexploded World War 11 device. Turned out – of course – to be a Martian spacecraft which over the millennia had unleashed all manner of psychological horrors on the local inhabitants (some of whom were – or had been - Neanderthals).
Well, to get back to the walk. We moved on from the spacecraft moored on the Lea and eventually reached Broxbourne where we stopped at a busy little cafe for refreshments and a bit of a laugh at some youths who hadn't worked out that if you both paddle on the same side of the boat you go round in circles – or bash into the bank, in this case. Their girl-friends in the other boat got the hang of it a lot quicker.
On the return journey we stopped at the spacecraft again and spoke to its owner. He wasn't a Martian at all, but simply a chap who'd bought a life-boat from an oil-rig and converted it for on board living, rather than space-travel or simply survival. That cleared THAT up.
So there we have it, a good six-mile walk (being three miles there and the equivalent back) Quite an easy pace where we stopped to look at things a few time and listen a couple, and a nice time was had by all.
It appears there is no imminent threat of an invasion by things that look like locusts - even aquatic ones let alone those that reside in pits - and Quatermass wasn't involved in any way.
Paul Ferris, 5th April 2016
Easter trip to Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales
Ten of us made the trip up to Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales on a beautiful sunny Good Friday morning. We went by train via East or West coast options and all met up at Bentham to get a taxi (organised in advance by Ian) in two shifts for the final 3 miles to Ingleton. It all worked out beautifully. Nine of us stayed in the YHA which was well located in the centre of the village near to pubs and the fish & chip shop and was very comfortable with a lounge overlooking the park and river and (now disused) viaduct, a really beautiful view. The 10th member had had to book into a B&B due to no more male vacancies at the YHA., but that was close by and he enjoyed the luxury of an ensuite double room with TV.
On Saturday we all went on the famous Ingleton Waterfalls walk which is a beautiful circular walk following 2 different rivers with waterfalls at both sides of the walk. Obviously with waterfalls go the inevitable steps – there were reputedly 1,000 steps on this walk and although only 4 ½ miles in length it felt like more. The falls were very beautiful and we stopped at an outdoor café half way around for a break. The scenery was stunning, not only the waterfalls themselves (which have been painted by J W Turner) but also the limestone scars along this walk. After the walk some members went for afternoon tea at a café in Ingleton and a couple of us walked up the main road to the White Scar Caves which were certainly worth the visit. The entrance to the caves had been dug out by Cornish tin miners to enable easier access to visitors. There were lovely formations, yet another waterfall and two very low stretches where you had to stoop for quite a distance and a ‘squeeze’ before reaching the final vast chamber with beautiful ‘straws’ and other formations. The walk back was across fields, stepping stones over the river and an old Roman road back into Ingleton.
On Easter Sunday six went off to the Caves (with due warnings about the stoops and squeeze) and four of us went on a 12 mile circular walk up Whernside, which at 736m (or 2,415’ in old money) is the highest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. Our nice taxi driver took us up to the famous Ribblehead viaduct for the start of the walk alongside the railway following a good well -made path up to the ridge past a lovely waterfall and stunning scenery. As we neared the top it started to snow… heavily. We had everything weather-wise that day – rain, hail, snow, mist, thunder, lightning and even sunshine. We took a quick summit photo near the trig point and pressed onwards towards Ingleton, following the summit drystone wall and bog trotting when the path deteriorated and became soggy. We finally descended at Twistleton Scar End to where there was a rather unexpected ice cream van on a little track (we gave that a miss). A quick coffee at the Waterfalls café, where we must have looked rather weather-beaten as they spotted we were not the usual waterfalls walkers and told us we would have to pay £6 if we wanted to follow the waterfalls path back to Ingleton… we took the Roman road instead! It was pleasantly sunny now and we dried off nicely on the way back.
On Monday our ‘personal’ taxi driver took us in two shifts back to Bentham Station, where we all travelled back together to London – sounds simple? Think again! Major overhead line damage in the Peterborough area caused by Storm Katie meant that our train, already very delayed, was turned back to go North again, so we jumped onto another train sitting in whatever station it was (I’d lost the will to live by then!) All we knew was that it was allegedly going to King’s Cross. It could have been much worse, we had already been given free drinks and snacks and we even got seats on the next train as well. We eventually arrived at King’s Cross 3 hours late, but at least we got there, at one point we had been discussing the possibility of getting a B&B or something.
All in all it was a very enjoyable and successful trip up to Yorkshire and thanks very much to Ian for organising it.
Lynne E., 5th April 2016
Rodings Rally Donation to St. Clare Hospice, Harlow.
Non-members of the Epping Forest Outdoor Group, or those new to the Rodings Rally, may like to read the following information.
Last November (2015) we held the 59th annual Rodings Rally. The Rally is a type of orienteering contest which takes place once a year in Epping Forest. It starts on Saturday night at High Beach and finishes at 8 a.m. the following morning at High Beach village hall. The rally has two possible routes, one of approximately 10 miles and the other of approximately 5 miles. Competitors have to find tents concealed in the Forest within the 8 hour period.
In addition to the entry fee, competitors pay a 50p contribution towards a charity, which is decided upon at the Group's next AGM. This is made up to £200 by the Epping Forest Outdoor Group, and this year it has been given to the St. Clare Hospice in Harlow.
This year’s Rodings Rally – the 60th – will take place on Saturday 19th - Sunday 20th November. If you would like to enter, make sure that you do not leave your booking to the last minute as we can only take 100 teams and this year we are expecting a big demand.
Peter Gamble, 25th March 2016
Rainham Hall and a Riverside Walk
Duncan organised a visit on Sunday 13th March to Rainham Hall, in Essex.
Rainham Hall is a recently refurbished early 18th Century merchant's house, in the village of Rainham, on the banks of the Ingrebourne River and near to the Thames. It was built in 1729 by Captain John Harle, who – having moved down from South Shields – purchased Rainham Wharf, dredged the Ingrebourne to allow shipping from the Thames and established himself as a ship-owner and trader. The house – so I think we were told – has subsequently had 50 owners, so it couldn't have been very popular.
In 1949 it was acquired by the National Trust, but has only recently after the refurbishment been open to the public. It's Grade 11* listed, and certainly worth a visit. You can wander round freely, and are encouraged to open doors and cupboards, if they are unlocked. There are also nice grounds – quite formal, but with a quirky corner which has thoughtfully been arranged to give some homes to less obvious wildlife, such as beetles.
It's probably worth mentioning that one of the historic outbuildings also acts as a cafeteria, and no surprise that most if not all of EFOG's visitors on the day partook in some form of refreshment, maybe twice.
There were actually quite a number of EFOG visitors - eighteen I think - most arriving by car but at least one sensibly taking the C2C train from West Ham, via Barking. Rainham station is at the limit of the Travelcard Zone, and Oyster Cards are valid, so it's an environmentally friendly way of getting there.
After the aforementioned and inevitable food, 10 of the 18 set out to walk to Purfleet. The day was bright – at least by then because the early morning had been foggy – and when sheltered from a breeze even warm in the sunshine. From Rainham village, to reach the Thames one used to have to trek down Ferry Lane, with marshes to the left and industry to the right, and always with lorries passing. Now, after the C2C (ex LTSR) level crossing crossing, there is a combined foot/cycle path parallel to the road but with reeds rather than roads as an immediate accompaniment. Beyond the A13 flyover, the path turns away from Ferry Lane and into the marshes, and gradually even the A13 loses its impact. Now all the walker has for soundscapes are the gentle song of a dunnock, the trill of a wren or the shrill of a Cetti's Warbler. Oh – and the ding or “whoosh” of a bike.
It feels odd to me – partially brought up with a view across Essex marshes towards a distant river - that this what-should-be-a-similar-view is not. It is not for the reason that the hills ahead aren't in Kent; they are in riverside Essex. The hills are thousands and thousands of tons of dredgings from the Thames and waste from the Town. They are now being landscaped into what will become a park, and already gorse is growing on the slopes and skylarks were singing above them.
We reached the river at the concrete barges. This group of a dozen or so haphazardly arranged craft are abandoned in the mud of the foreshore, some with holes in their sides so that they won't float again. And float they once did (yeh – I know – concrete). These historic barges were built – it is said – to be floated across the Channel to be used in the Normandy Landings, forming what was known as the Mulberry Harbour. There is a debate as to whether this group ever were involved in that, but certainly others that are to be found scattered along the Thames were used in 1953 to try to plug some of the breaches in the sea-wall during the floods.
The group got a bit split-up from then on, with a leading group walking on and a trailing group looking at things. There was also an intermediate group but I never found out what they were doing. As integral components of the trailing group, we looked at a few things and listened to a few things. Looking included skylarks, teal, oystercatchers, froghoppers, springtails, ants and spiders. Listening included skylarks and oystercatchers, maybe the “ping” of a springtail – and the waves on the shore.
Rounding Coldharbour Point, the reasoning of its name became more obvious, because we caught a nippy wind that took away a little bit from the previous mostly warm sunshine. Not much, though, and by the time we reached the RSPB reserve's cafeteria near Purfleet, I was certainly warm enough – not quite enough for an ice-cream, but thankful for a cuppa and a cake.
The extra 3/4 mile to Purfleet station was completed in good enough time – even including an abortive stretch of riverside path that didn't have an exit (damn the developers) – that we were all able to purchase our respective single-stop journey tickets back to Rainham station. This, by the way, was with the grateful assistance of a member of the station-staff who fed all our relevant coinage and noteage into the machine in time for everybody to catch the train.
Paul Ferris, 14th March 2016