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    CHICCHANTAL   28,171
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Saturday, March 02, 2013

We all like a bit of a challenge, don't we? The important thing is to quantify the word 'bit', before you get started.

So . . . a few blogs ago I remarked that one day I wanted to join up some of the walks I have done, because the ones up the Lee river valley and the ones in Epping Forest are on the same Ordnance Survey map. I had observed that the Three Forests Way does the joining up bit nicely. The next step (pun!) was to work out how far.

Well, a long way. Using the SparkPeople link to the thingy that you can map your walk on, I came up with more than 12 miles and I know from past experience that this underreports by about 20-25 per cent because you plot your route in straight line segments but you don't walk that way: when walking you potter along and hop from one side of the path to the next to avoid puddles etc.

Right, today I get the train to Roydon station which is in Hertfordshire. Get out, cross the track and discover that Roydon itself is in Essex. I am looking to pick up the Three Forests Way but first I'm on the Stort Valley Way. Start walking, walk up a lane by a church and it turns out the path goes through the graveyard and indeed right around it in places. Bit weird this.

Here's some blurb about the church. I thought it looked old. www.roydonstpeter

Ask a lad on a tractor if I'm going the right way and he waves happily and doesn't run me down so it looks as though I am. You never know with teenagers driving tractors. Walk along a track, come to a wood and I'm going to skip this bit because it's tedious, I mislay the path and go round almost in a circle and in the end walk down to the canal (which I walked along in the other direction last time I came to Roydon) in order to be sure of picking up the right path again, and do so. See a pheasant galloping along the field in front of me. My father used to try to get photos of pheasants and it may be of interest to you to know that a pheasant can outrun a 40-year old man with ease, faster and for longer. He never got his photo. Shortly after this a lady pheasant erupts RIGHT under my feet, ageing me a couple of years in a few seconds. The hens lie still till you are about to tread on them then they explode making you die of fright.

It's not a sunny day but the views are fab, as always. It hasn't rained much for a couple of weeks and the ground has had time to dry out, a plus. Take a left turn up a hill steep enough that I'm making whoofy noises and turn to take more pix of the view.

Emerge on to a road by a building called Didgemere Hall which I thought would be interesting as the name is fab but it's not, it's been built with new money. This is the issue with Essex: loads of people who make their pile move out here and build a pile and it has to be said money doesn't buy you taste, and nothing will create a brick-built Jacobean mini stately home in the 21st century. You have to buy one that was built in the 17th century. You get a lot of houses with gateposts like these:

OK, OK, I'll stop being a snob. I'm just envious because I haven't got any money at all and I would know what to do with it if I had it.

Sooo . . . walk along the road a few metres, up a precipitous bank and over a stile. Cross a serious of small hedged fields (pasture) and pass a bonfire that looks picturesque and smells utterly vile. I was hoping for woodsmoke but this is more old knickers.

There is much evidence of deer: hoofprints, little piles. Come to a small and muddy field with two horses in. Oh, just what I wanted.

In fact, they are fine, mildly curious although one of them whinnies and makes me jump out of my skin. Once I'm safely at the other side of the fence, I stroke their noses.

Walk past some rather scruffy allotments with caged guinea fowl (I think) and go temporarily into orbit when a large dog lurches round a corner, flings itself to the end of its chain and bellows blue murder at me.

I am grateful there's a fence between me and the dog as well as the chain.

This is Roydon Hamlet. Keep on, along a little path. Note a discarded horseshoe that must have been put there by a human as you wouldn't get a horse along this path. Turn it the right way up to stop the luck from running out.

Get to another small and lovely church that has apparently been done up nicely by some bad boys.

This church is even older:

Observe a clump of snowdrops.

Walk up the road past a phone box that can't get a lot of use these days, come after a while to the main road with a convenient seat and before someone suggests otherwise I wish to make it clear the seat was in a state of disrepair BEFORE I sat on it.

Eat lunch: peanut butter sarnie, lentil soup, bottle of water, tangerine. Examine map. There is more than one way to get where I want to be and neither is very direct. Decide to cut across Nazeing Common. This is a nice clearly defined track across farmland. I'm a bit surprised because I wasn't expecting it to be ploughed, as it's common land and marked as such on the map, but it is.

There's a farmhouse halfway across, a beautiful building. I would have taken a photo but it's in the middle of nowhere and I felt a bit awkward so I didn't. It's whitewashed with buttresses and I would guess 18th century. A solid English vernacular house, typical of the area, and now I wish I HAD taken a photo of it. I've googled and there isn't one.


Notice a sign up saying 'Respectful notice: this is not a footpath' I would hope to stop people going the wrong way. As this land is common land, it is open to the public to walk on. As it's been ploughed, this is impossible. I wonder how long since it was first ploughed. Common land is mostly pasture. The fields look gorgeous though and there's a tractor up ahead doing the ploughing.

Keep on, walking steadily up a hill. There's a man in a red jacket up ahead of me and I think he came out of the farmhouse, I've no idea where else he could have come from. Reach the village of Epping Green and sit on a rustic bench to take a photo of one of three pubs I can see from the bench, plus pond.

I could kill a pint but I wouldn't get served, not with these boots on.

Get out the map, look around for the path and find it, with a signpost telling me I've got to the edge of Epping Forest. Walk up a broad green lane that has more of these irritating humps along it, I assume for drainage but they are murder to walk on as you really have to concentrate on your walking because they are so uneven. This is the only unpleasantly muddy bit I come across today, quite an improvement.

Turn left up a nice little track and meet the first people of the day, four hours in. Walk up a track along a field and there's a signpost into a hedgerow which is impossible. Backtrack a bit and walk up the other side of the hedgerow and there's a corresponding sign telling people to walk through a thick hedge over a deep ditch. What has happened of course is the path is so difficult here people have taken a way around it and it's completely overgrown.

Walk down the track and see two dogs in the field in front of me. Whistle to them but they are not interested, they are clearly farm dogs, off on a toot. Get to a farm, cross the farmyard and pick up the path again. Farmyards are a bit of an issue, it's like walking through someone's front garden but of course the footpaths are there because they were originally the means of getting to the farm and without the farm, no footpath.

Get to a series of zigzags where I am walking along the edge of a field. There are footpath signposts but they have been uprooted, I would guess by a naughty farmer who knocked them over with a tractor. There's a babbling brook that would be nice to paddle in on a hot day and I sit down at length for five minutes to check I'm in the right place and look at the nice lecky pylon.

And realise that there is a herd of deer on the hill opposite. In fact they must be the same deer that Stonecot and I saw the other week, because I realise I am only half a mile from where we were.

A couple of the deer bound along and they've clearly noticed me, a good quarter mile away, because they start moving off. I put on a spurt and find myself out on a metalled road with a few desirable residences along it, and come to the junction where Stonecot and I turned off for Epping the other week.

Now, I haven't at this point decided where I am going to finish this walk. I would LIKE to walk to Chingford but Epping or Loughton are nearer. If I turn off for Epping now, I don't get tea and buns at the tea 'ut. So I keep on, to Upshire, cross the bridge over the M25, go up the track, and I'm in the forest proper.

I'm starting to feel really tired, but the prospect of tea and a loo keeps me going. Take a pic of the spectacular view

and get to the tea hut where I have a ham roll, a piece of cake, some chocolate you don't need to see, and tea.

The whole lot comes to 3.70. You can get tea at the Ritz for 38 if you want to spend silly money, and the Ritz doesn't provide a forest to consume it in. Finish tea, visit the loo, set off for the final stretch.

By now I'm shattered. The restoratives helped but not as much as I'd hoped. Plod down the track towards Loughton. I can hear children screaming and catcalling in the woods but can't see them, it's weird. I find them eventually, galloping along the brook. This is the same brook where I got horribly lost last summer because with the trees in leaf you can't see where you're going.

The light's fading as I get to Loughton. No, I didn't go to Chingford, it would have been about three miles further and I wanted to be back before dark.

And the tally for the day? Just under 40,000 steps, 16 miles.

My left knee is killing me but hey! I've only once walked further than this in a day, and I was 18 at the time.

For all the people who were asking, here are some Welsh cakes www.bbcgoodfood.c

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
CATNCAG 12/3/2013 10:58AM

    16 miles!!! My goodness you are so AMAZING! Thanks for taking us with you & providing some great pics! Hope u had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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SUPERSYLPH 7/27/2013 11:35AM

    Neat pictures, thank you!

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WATCHINW8 4/22/2013 10:01PM

    Thanks for the adventure, Loved the pictures emoticon

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LINDAM.1 3/19/2013 3:06AM

  Thanks for the walk and pictures. Happy almost spring

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SYNCHRODAD 3/16/2013 9:13AM

    I am a Johnny come lately commenter, but what a delightful journey I've just "bean" on, (two blog for one comment). You get an "A" for using miles instead of kilometers. Olde Englishe. Thanks!

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CAMSEDGE 3/10/2013 10:45AM

    Thank you once again for a delightfull romp through the countryside on my computer...just fun

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BRADIA 3/9/2013 8:56AM

    That was a delightful walk. I loved most of your pictures.
Thanks for sharing.

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BPPRESKO 3/8/2013 4:16PM

    How fun! Thanks for letting me tag along!

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BPPRESKO 3/8/2013 4:15PM

    How fun! Thanks for letting me tag along!

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JIBBIE49 3/8/2013 4:07PM

    Once again you're the star. emoticon

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DONNA5281 3/8/2013 12:51PM

  I love the pictures.
Thank you for sharing.

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NEPTUNE1939 3/8/2013 10:05AM


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SWTLDY 3/8/2013 2:37AM

    Awesome pics, and a wonderful story. Keep up the good work

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JERICHO1991 3/7/2013 9:51PM

    Another great adventure. Thanks for sharing.

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LINDA! 3/7/2013 9:41PM

    Just love the photos. WOW

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PCASEY7 3/7/2013 5:19PM

    WOW, you rock!

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AMARILYNH 3/7/2013 4:24PM

    Wow - 16 miles and 40,000 is a LONG hike!! No wonder you were tired!! You EARNED that cake and chocolate!! Well done!! emoticon

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ENG_TV 3/7/2013 12:11PM

    Great walk and great pics! Congrats on completing you adventure. emoticon

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KLONG8 3/7/2013 11:41AM

    I love taking walks with you. Thanks!

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TINY67 3/7/2013 10:33AM

    Thanks, great pics.

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    Lovely walk :)

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SUZYMOBILE 3/7/2013 9:20AM

    I was just thinking this looked like a much less muddy walk and that spring must have arrived, when you said it.

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REGILIEH 3/7/2013 8:56AM

    WOW!!!! I'm exhausted! I usually wish I were with you on your hikes, not today! I would have slowed you down! I'm impressed!!!

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AUSFAM 3/6/2013 7:01PM

    You have such great pics and great explorations! Love your humor! :)

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LIFETIMER54 3/6/2013 5:25PM

  emoticon emoticon

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JEWITCH 3/6/2013 3:05PM

    Wow, what a fantastic walk and gorgeous scenery. Thanks for sharing.,

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JGMARIE80 3/6/2013 2:43PM

  First time to read your blog and I enjoyed it. It felt like I was there with you all the way . 40000 steps. Wow! I can hardly make 3000 but I' ll keep trying. Thanks for sharing.

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ALIWVU121 3/6/2013 2:11PM

    Ohh How I miss Welsh cakes!! Lovely walk!

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TAKE2ASAP 3/6/2013 1:09PM

    Wow... unable to walk so thank you for taking me with you on this one through story and pictures. Wonderful.
Cindy emoticon

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CFMOSS 3/6/2013 8:13AM

    Love your walks - I go along vicariously....and maybe I need to be walking more too.

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THOMS1 3/5/2013 10:44PM

    emoticon Great Walk.

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NEWMOM20121 3/5/2013 9:10PM

    I love it when you share.

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JESSICABOOTY 3/5/2013 8:36PM

    I always have a good time with you on your walks.

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KALEWINE 3/5/2013 3:39PM

    Sounds like a fun way to spend a day and get some exercise in too!

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JULBEL 3/5/2013 10:25AM

    I feel like I've journeyed with you One for me in the future I think

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DRAGONFIRE4 3/5/2013 8:40AM

    Wow what a walk beautiful country an fantastic pictures. Loved to read along your walks. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHRISGORGME 3/5/2013 6:22AM

    Thanks for another great blog!


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LIFETIMER54 3/5/2013 4:31AM

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WESTERNSAGE 3/5/2013 12:27AM

    What a delightful walk - and I really loved your pictures. But how did you get home? I can't imagine you walked another 40,000 steps! Your description kept me going right along with you. We don't have many long walking paths like that here in Colorado - ours mostly go up and down through the mountains or sort of flat around the edge of the metro area. Thanks for the trip!

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KARENLEIGH32 3/4/2013 11:53PM

    As usually I enjoy our walk!

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FIREFLY_MEDIC 3/4/2013 10:07PM


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DANAPRIME 3/4/2013 10:04PM

    16 miles!!!!!!! emoticon

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LUCKY8GAL 3/4/2013 9:14PM

    Just lovely. Thanks for taking us on your walk emoticon

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JULESJET 3/4/2013 6:26PM

    That was an awesome walk! Thanks for taking us along!

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AJB121299 3/4/2013 6:02PM


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Made me want to take a stroll! Be back later!

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CYDNEYLEECH 3/4/2013 3:10PM

    On my gosh. What a long walk. At least you got some lovely pictures. You have such a wonderful way with words, as you describe your walks. It makes a person feel as if they are along with you. Thanks

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DEBLYNN323 3/4/2013 2:35PM


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YAFENELRA 3/4/2013 1:45PM

    If I had views like this when walking, I know I would walk more.

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CHARLIEMARS 3/4/2013 12:35PM


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