So yet another glorious Summer’s day, and it’s still only 10th April. Perhaps the weather gods are serving up some recompense for that awful snow and ice we had a few months ago.
Anyway there was 12 of us for this one with our leader winding everyone up at the start by suggesting perhaps we could turn this into a 16 mile walk to Chelmsford. The reply en-masse was something along the lines of: perhaps we could stick with the walk you advertised in the program instead. So with that resolved we set off through the boring suburban streets of Billericay, but in due course got out into open countryside. Here we found ourselves in green and gorgeous rolling hills, all enhanced by the glorious sunshine. Below us at one point was a small aerodrome where a combination of cessna’s and hang gliders rose up to meet us, and all around us there were fields of yellow oil seed rape. There was also a shimmering river of cars far away in the distance, which apparently is where Ford test and/or store them (sorry can’t be more exact on that location, but a free packet of Fishermans Friends awaits anyone who can enlighten me). This of course is half the problem with walks led by other people, namely they jealously guard their map, whilst you wonder in vain where you actually are. Although full credit to this leader who is a fountain of knowledge on just about everything around you, if you can hear what he is actually saying.
Now we were told to bring some food provisions with us on the basis that we wouldn’t be at the pub till around three, at which point they would have stopped serving food. In the event however we arrived at the Green Man in Herongate at around one thirty. Only three of us went inside to eat whilst the others decided to have their sandwiches out on the grass in the blazing sunshine. After the barmaid had checked out my Hamsters t-shirt, I ordered the fish and chips and a pint of Strongbow. Periodically as we were eating one couldn’t help noting a growing collection of biker types at the other end of the bar. When we went outside again, it was apparent that there was a lot more of them outside having some sort of Harley Davidson convention, mixed in with a barbecue in the pub garden (good job then that a certain person I know wasn’t along for this walk, otherwise she have run off with one of them).
The second half of the walk was almost exclusively within the grounds of Thorndon Country Park. This in the main was mainly wooded, which gave a welcome respite from the main heat of the day. In due course we came to Thorndon Hall which caused me to double take for a moment given its close resemblance to Osterley House (this country seat apparently is split into private residential flats). A little further on and we decided we had earned a tea stop at the park’s visitor centre. Well not me actually, as I decided an ice cream was more in order.
So after eventually leaving the park we were back in boring suburbia again, only Brentwood this time, for about a mile before making the station two minutes before the Liverpool Street train pulled in. So overall a good walk, except for the suburban bits that bookended it. I made sure I had my hat on all day, but noticed when I got home I had a very red neck and nose.