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    CHICCHANTAL   28,158
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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:
KIPPER15 3/3/2013 9:04AM

    Once again a lovely walk. Thank you so much for taking me along. emoticon

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INGMARIE 3/3/2013 8:54AM

    well done emoticon
great pictures and a really loooooooooooooooong walk
that was an amazing trek i must say.Lunch looked good too,and since we did not se chocolate was it really there??? emoticon
Thanks for sharing.

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KNYAGENYA 3/3/2013 8:54AM


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WORKNPROGRESS49 3/3/2013 8:54AM

    emoticon emoticon for sharing!!!

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AZURELITE 3/3/2013 8:37AM

    Love 'joining' you on your walks! My DH came along as I was reading this one and I said that I really want to go back to England again (and soon too, as my 2 last living uncles over there aren't getting any younger). DH said he's keen to go too!
It would be great to meet you if you happen to live anywhere near either of them, or near some of my cousins!
Happy hiking!!!

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SPARKLED146 3/3/2013 8:37AM

    Beautiful photos! What a wonderful location for walking!

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KELSEY54 3/3/2013 8:20AM


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LAURANCE 3/3/2013 8:20AM

  I love to read your stories about your hikes. Thanks for the lovely pictures! I love the beautiful old churches. Right now I'm getting over a very bad cold and cannot go hiking yet. But soon, soon I hope to walk sixteen miles myself.


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TRYINGHARD54 3/3/2013 8:17AM

    wow.. I think I need a nap now after that long walk.... I liked the picture of the horses..
Looked like the white horse was coming after

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    wow. that's incredible!

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FANCYFREE15 3/3/2013 8:15AM

    Thank you so much for taking us with you! I look forward to each one of your blogs! You made my day! emoticon

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DIANA3BANANA 3/3/2013 8:11AM


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IDICEM 3/3/2013 8:07AM

    What a fabulous hike! Thank you for sharing your adventure, and congrats on 40,000 steps!


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JIMDAB 3/3/2013 8:05AM


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MOMMY445 3/3/2013 8:02AM

    such beautiful pictures! thanks for sharing and have an awesome day!

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BESSHAILE 3/3/2013 7:54AM

    Again, I thank you for taking me along on your walk.

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CVRONEK 3/3/2013 7:50AM

    emoticon Felt like I was right there with you, however my knee does not hurt.
Been a long time since I walked that far, but I now have a longing.
Good job.

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JEANUT 3/3/2013 7:45AM

    What a beautiful place you have to work out at....
and what a great work out.

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WILMA102 3/3/2013 7:43AM

    I really enjoyed your blog

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SHERYLDS 3/3/2013 7:43AM

    simply wonderful .... thank you for sharing

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WISLNDR 3/3/2013 7:00AM

    I'm really enjoying these walks; thank you for sharing with us!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LEANMEAN2 3/3/2013 6:49AM

    I'm wondering how do you feel the next day after such a trek?

Thanks for sharing the adventure with us!

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ROBB1N 3/3/2013 6:01AM


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JIBBIE49 3/3/2013 6:00AM

    You're the STAR.

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KITTYDASTH 3/3/2013 5:56AM

    Amazing! Love the pics all thorough your workout route! :) emoticon

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CHERYLHURT 3/3/2013 4:57AM

  Gorgeous! Are you walking all alone?

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-POOKIE- 3/3/2013 4:28AM

    Lovely walk, thanks for sharing!

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KPETSCHE 3/3/2013 4:19AM

    I love to go on my virtual walks with you. Thanks for the lovely stroll through the countryside.

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PIMPINELLAN50 3/3/2013 4:10AM

    Thank you for another great adventure of the Brittish Outdoor's.Your "Virtual Tour and Blog is both facinating and humorous! emoticon
Loved all the pictures,the spring flowers and the horses was especially lovely.
That piece of Chocolate emoticon you had was no doubt well deserved!
Hope that you are giving yourself a few days of TLC!

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PENNYPACKER3 3/3/2013 3:21AM


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NEW-CAZ 3/3/2013 3:10AM

    emoticon emoticon

Thanks for taking me with you, loved the pics!

have a great Sunday!

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COCK-ROBIN 3/3/2013 1:29AM

    Thanks for taking me along with you on this hike. It was wonderful!

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SENIMMO 3/3/2013 1:14AM

    Thank you so much for the fabulous photos! I'm knackered after a grocery trip today, I can't imagine 16 miles in a day! I'm in absolute awe!

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MICKEYH 3/3/2013 12:23AM

    emoticon for taking me hike with you again !! Loved the journey. emoticon

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DESERTJULZ 3/3/2013 12:16AM

    You out-hike me every time! Your walks/hikes are definitely distance! I'm happy now when I hit 5-7 miles in one day. Inspiring. :D

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LYNNWILK2 3/2/2013 11:37PM

    I really enjoy going on the virtual guided walk with you...
you're an inspirational explorer!

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LYNCHD05 3/2/2013 11:35PM

    Your hikes are amazing. 16 miles......don't think I cold do it. Way to go

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ANGIEN9 3/2/2013 11:34PM

    Great Blog as usual!! emoticon emoticon Makes me want to visit to see the beautiful land in person!! Angie

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JANETTEB553 3/2/2013 11:11PM

    emoticon emoticon

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TEDYBEAR2838 3/2/2013 11:04PM


Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all
your spark friends!

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    Thank you for sharing your trek!
I so enjoy your narration with the pictures.

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LUVTOBOWL 3/2/2013 10:37PM

    Great pics, you always go on nice walks with beautiful scenery. Lol about the chocolate.

Thanks for sharing...


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GOANNA2 3/2/2013 10:19PM

    Thanks for he commentary and great pictures and
for taking me along with you. emoticon

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EABL81 3/2/2013 10:12PM

    You've done yourself proud and got some great pictures to boot. Good for you! Thanks for taking us along.

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JUNEAU2010 3/2/2013 10:04PM

    Sounds as if you encountered far less mud! YAY! I love your blogs - I love your writing, the pictures, the sense of humor and the entire package gives me a peek into a part of the world I have yet to see.

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FALLNTENN 3/2/2013 10:03PM

    Sixteen miles is amazing. Thank you for taking pictures and writing about your lovely walk. Epping Forest looks so beautiful and your tea looks delicious. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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LINDAK25 3/2/2013 9:51PM

    Verknackulared? I think I would be semi-comatose if I walked 16 miles. I'm so glad you didn't have tons of mud to contend with.

I love the pictures, especially the churches. I notice the sun wasn't shining. 50 degrees without sunshine is too cold. Brrr. My favorite part would be the tea, sandwich, and cake. Sort of like a kid whose says his favorite subject in school is lunch, huh? (Yes, someone actually told me that.)

Hope you have a quiet Sunday.

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CINDYSDAY 3/2/2013 9:40PM

    I love the pictures as always!

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AUSFAM 3/2/2013 9:08PM

    Once again , I'm jealous! :) fantastic pictures and happy you conquered the pheasant picture! :)

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PHOENIX1949 3/2/2013 8:22PM

    Enjoyed your long hike!

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