The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
This May We Shall be Mainly Walking The Way
When lockdown started, in March and April, Mike and I stuck to the rules and only walked form our house, so we got to know the footpaths around Billericay pretty well. We found the we were often walking on parts of the St Peter's Way, so as lockdown eased a little and we were allowed to drive a short distance for exercise, Mike suggested that we might walk the whole of Way, which is around 40 miles. The group had completed it back in 2011 and 2012, but we had been unable to do it then, so this seemed like the ideal opportunity.
We started to execute our plan on Thursday 7th May, as Mike had taken an extra day off work attached to the Bank Holiday for VE Day. As we only have one car, we had to walk in circuits, so we parked in Blackmore, created a route out to Chipping Ongar, and then walked from the start back to Blackmore and slightly beyond. With lots of choices of footpaths in the area, it was easy to make a circuit and we didn't have to do any bits twice. It was a lovely walk, but I was surprised there was no real clear signpost showing the start of the Way. We also met a farmer near Blackmore on his Quad Bike, who told us we were on private land as we stood next to a sign post with a St Peter's Way symbol and a footpath sign on it!!
The next day we parked in Blackmore again and had a lovely walk on the Way out to the railway crossing near Mountnessing where the path and a stream go under the railway in a dark Victorian tunnel, then back to Blackmore. On day 3 of the long weekend we parked in Stock and walked back out to the railway, then followed the Way to the Compasses Pub at West Hanningfield, where we would have loved a drink! As we walked back to Stock we saw a house really decorated well for VE Day, with sandbags and a tank outside and black tape across the windows. Dad said he had seen this house on the local news. On Sunday we rested!
The next weekend had a good weather forecast again, so we decided to walk on both Saturday and Sunday. So on the 16th May we parked in Bicknacre and walked back to Hanningfield on a circuitous route, then followed the Way back to Bicknacre. In that area there were lots of Silhouette 1st World War soldiers on the park benches, but they had been joined by models of nurses to thank the NHS too. On the 17th, started again in Bicknacre and walked out to Roundbush, passing through the vineyards at Purleigh and the church and Bell Pub up on Purleigh Hill, definitely somewhere to go back to, hopefully with the group when we can, it was beautiful, the views were magnificent from up there, and we could see Radio Caroline and the power station near our ultimate destination in Bradwell.
We really were out in the Dengie by now, but luckily Boris had told us we could drive as far as we liked for our exercise, and also Mike wanted to check out his eyesight, so we were able to get the last few legs done. On 23rd May we parked in Mayland, walked back to Roundbush and then back alone the creeks to Maylandsea. We were having to do a fair bit of doubling back now, as the footpaths in that area are a bit few and far between, even the St Peter's Way does a fair bit of road walking so we had to do it twice. However, we at last felt legally able to take a picnic with us and eat our sandwiches out in the open!! On Sunday 24th, we parked in Tillingham and walked back to Maylandsea via St Lawrence Church. The Way doesn't actually go up to St Lawrence, but we walked out that way and it was the best bit of the walk, again up high with magnificent views over the Blackwater Estuary. We walked back on the Way, via Steeple, but again we had rather a lot of road walking.
Nearly there! Mike again took a day’s holiday as we were worried it might be a bit busy down at St Peters Chapel on a weekend, so we finished the walk on Thursday 29th May. Luckily, the last walk in the Green Essex Way book planned the route for the last day for us, we just did it the wrong way round, so we could get to Tillingham, the walk back to Bradwell via the Way along the sea wall. There were 2 cars when we parked down at the chapel and about 42 when we got back! It was a lovely day if rather windy so we decided to forgo the swim we had planned at the end.
So there ended our May lockdown project, we walked 90 miles over 8 beautiful days this month to complete the St Peters Way, and it gave a focus to our walking. Not Spain or the Lakes perhaps, but not too bad! We’ve been looking at the Forest Way and the Harcamlow Way for the future perhaps.
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