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Not the Loch Ness monster

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today I take the train back to Cheshunt and walk up the river Lea to Broxbourne. This is the same walk I did a few weeks ago, but I walked nearly all the paths in reverse to give us all some different views.

Last time I was wearing a tshirt and jogging pants and was boiled. Today I have my fleece on and some nice thick trousers (the ones that fall off if I wriggle a lot) that I want to get more wear out of before they are finally too big altogether. Concentrating on not wriggling. Definitely not trousers for hulahooping in.

So, get off the train and walk along the road a couple of hundred metres stopping to photograph some Himalayan Balsam by a stream.

Reach the edge of the river and turn left (or north, if you want to be precise about it). Set off nice and briskly. I've got iPod with me, and am trying to up my walking speed.

This comes unstuck of course, very quickly. It's a beautiful, beautiful day, and I'm stopping roughly every 50 metres to take photos. I am just going snap snap snap with the camera.

The outward walk is along the river all the way. That's to my right. To the left of me is a lake with a group of people having a canoeing lesson. When I was in my teens I did some canoeing. It also involved endurance training because we had to drag the canoes a quarter of a mile across a field to the river, and back again after the lesson. The actual canoeing was great, though, so I'm a bit envious.

I can see that in the few weeks since I was here, autumn has got to grips with the countryside. The blackberries are nearly finished, the elderberries have peaked and there are bright red hips and haws.

Last week in Essex I only saw one dragon all day, I think because it was overcast. Today it's sunny and warm and there are loads and loads. You can tell when you're passing the dragonfly sanctuary because the blighters are everywhere. I dance a little, passing the sanctuary. What you would call the 'dragonfly's excuse-me'.

Is it just me or does an outward journey always seem longer than the return one? I got off the train at about 12 and was already ravenous. Napoleon was right: armies do march on their stomachs and so do Sparkers. By the time Broxbourne comes into sight, I'm ready to eat my own trainers, stewed.

Fortunately, I don't have to. I grab half pint of cider, pick a table where I can watch the action on the water (not much, it's Saturday lunchtime and the atmosphere is somnolent) and sit down to rest my feet. After a full 15 mintes' contemplation of the menu, I go in and order steak and mushroom pie with mash and peas and broad beans.

I would have LIKED scampi and chips but this is a compromise. The pastry is actually very thin and I feel virtuous that I didn't have anything fried. (On rereading this sounds like a lot of lame excuses to me. No I shouldn't have had pastry. Yes I did. Slapped wrist.) Interestingly, last time I was here it was a Sunday and the menu was much more expensive. Will have to test this again another time. Just for research purposes of course.

I would really really like a pudding. Here's the pudding menu.

Let's hear your orders! For me, it's the ginger sticky toffee pudding. I didn't order it of course, only in my head. Not after that pie and that mash.

Examine map, pausing briefly to look down nose at small girl who is running around being a pest. It'll end in tears, and sure enough within three minutes she's fallen and bumped herself and is howling blue murder about it. Her mum says exactly what all mums say in the same circumstances: 'Stop running about and sit down quietly.' Small girl does this for about three minutes.

Return attention to map. A quick prod at the sole of my right foot has informed me that yes! I've got a blister. Why, I do not know. I haven't walked that far, or that fast, my feet have been wearing Birkenstocks all summer so my soles are quite tough, but a blister means there's no chance I'll risk getting temporarily mislaid and walking further than I intend. So I pick out a return route and start back, the first bit retracing my steps.

Now, I haven't gone very far when something interesting happens. A largish bird flops down into the river near me. It dives for a bit, comes up, fixes me with a basilisk stare and paddles off, but not before I have taken a photo of it.

'Hm,' I say to myself. I come from a family of birdwatchers but am an anomaly. I mean I can tell a budgie from a blackbird and a feral pigeon from either. This bird looks like a diver to me and the only diver I know of is the Great Northern Diver, which I don't think you would get here. Hm. File it away for reference.

Reach the grassy spot with picnic tables that marks the place where I turn inland for the other path and turn inland for the other path. Come across this notice:

The person who wrote that has clearly got a mind above double entendres, wouldn't you say? I haven't, of course. It looks positively Shakespearian to me. 'Groping for trout in a peculiar river.'

Walk along a bit of road, through a gate, along a bit, through another gate, encounter a bench and sit down for some of the tea I brought with my in my shiny new flask.

The flask is a present to encourage me to save money and not go in teashops where there is cake.

I'm still working on ways to avoid pubs.

This is the view I get while I drink my tea. Black, no sugar, no calories. Fortunately for me I don't like milk or sugar in tea and coffee. Cake is another matter.

Set off again, and find a nice straight footpath to avoid cyclists. Just look at the sky on this one! It's been magical all day, but at the point the clouds are sort of incandescent. If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have believed it. You lot have to take my word for it of course.

Keep going, come out on the cycle track after a bit, then see a sign to 'Nightingale wood and pochard hide'. Since I can't get more than moderately lost, being in a band of countryside half a mile wide between a railway and a river, I turn off to have a look. I'm not expecting nightingales which are extremely rare and I'm not sure I would know a pochard if one bit me in the ankle (they are a kind of duck).

Walk along a twisty path which resolves itself into a walkway between two lakes. At intervals blokes are sitting fishing on little platforms. This fishing business is nothing to do with a bent hook and a bit of string either. They've got little barrow things they've clearly wheeled along the path with all their stuff in. It's all toys for the boys, innit?

Then the path is blocked by this fallen tree. Impossible to go round it, there's water at either side. I have to crawl under, I mean literally hands and knees on the ground under. Thank heaven nobody's looking. When I bend over it's like the sun going down. Bit further on is another fallen tree but this one I'm glad to say is higher off the ground. Keep following the path, and I can see that I will shortly be linking up with the river towpath again.

Only I won't, because the path ends in the middle of the lake.

Hmph. I have to walk back then.

Oh double triple hmph with bells on!

I have to crawl under that adjectival treetrunk again.

Ten minutes later, I'm back on the path. No wonder all the fishermen gave me funny looks (A woman? down here? this is bloke territory, this! we've got our toys, we've got our lake, all we need is fish.)

Pick up my speed a bit, pass under an apple tree that must be very old because this is not cultivated land and it's a while since it was. And start to see bits that I recognise from the first time I was here. Some lovely trees, absolutely gigantic poplars and willows.

Here's one for the dog lovers:

I've never seen such a thing before, it made me chuckle. There were plenty of dogs about, but they weren't trying the course out. Maybe they couldn't read the sign.

And back to the station. Six and a half miles and the blister was caused by the Cath Kidston logo knitted into the sock, can you believe it? It's slightly bumpy. Will have to look into special walking socks. The vacuum flask is a qualified success - I've been drinking tea since I got home and still haven't finished the flask. This is because I bought a 1 litre sized one in the hope of making myself drink more.

The bird by the way is a lady red throated diver, I think. No red throat because she's a girl.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I absolutely love willow trees. And great job on compromising during your lunch. That's how you make this a lifestyle change. Make choices that you will be satisfied with so you don't feel depraved, but don't go overboard with things like puddings! emoticon
    2099 days ago


    With your fabulous pics
    I feel am right there with you -
    (not likely, I don't buy lottery tixs)

    Yes, Dear, with all that traipsing
    about, you NEED GOOD SOCKS

    emoticon emoticon


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    2100 days ago
    Beautiful walk!
    I got my high-powered magnifying glass for your picture and identified a western grebe...which in your country is called a diver...all nature is the same and only the names change! When I was young, I liked to try to sneak up behind them in the canoe!
    Put me down for apple and gooseberry crumble! emoticon
    2100 days ago
  • KATYDID412
    I love "the adjectival tree." Great blog, and what a gorgeous place to walk.
    2100 days ago
    You're making me want to go for a walk. Thanks!
    2100 days ago
  • RUNGRL2013
    Looks just beautiful where you walk--enjoy!!!! emoticon
    2100 days ago
    Lovely scenery!!
    2100 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    I came back a second time to reread your blog with all the pics! Lovely, and I laughed out loud a few times. You made my day! Thank you! emoticon
    2100 days ago
  • STHAX10
    emoticon emoticon
    2100 days ago
    I really enjoyed your blog. The photos with the narrative were wonderful. I almost felt I was there. Hope your blister heals fast.
    2100 days ago
    WOW I just love your walks : ) and your SO funny :D Sorry about the blister :O
    2100 days ago
    Beautiful photos and interesting walk. We're hoping to do similar soon. Found my AA book of UK walks in the loft this morning. Will have to delve and find some to do. Also fancy doing some of the London ones, particularly the City of London ones...
    2100 days ago
    Another fabulous blog, with great photos! emoticon
    I love Kath Kidston stuff. Have some trainers - now falling apart, toiletries (the rose range is divine), a mug and some hairgrips.
    Raspberry sorbet for me please! Very good for my frequent hot flushes!! emoticon
    2101 days ago
  • POPSY190
    Another wonderful blog. I read the dessert menu and started slobbering! Hope you have managed to deal with the blister.
    2101 days ago
    emoticon anne, lovely pics and I enjoyed the walk.
    I think I would have chosen the pie too, looks delishhhhhh. Don't you just love English Pub Meals!
    The willows remind me of Radnor Gardens in Twickenham, love those trees!

    Thanks for sharing, you'll be needing new walking shoes at this rate emoticon
    2101 days ago
    Great job!! Gorgeous photos! The skies here are just like what you described! I have seen some pretty awesome ones myself here in Florida and have photos on my page, along with sunsets too. We saw some nice ones on our walk today. I will post a video of one of our walks and photos soon. Love your blogs, so informative-feel like I am right there with you!
    I like plain tea also, no sugar or milk! Hate artificial sweeteners too, so to save calories with drinking sweet tea all the time...I forced myself to like unsweetened! With all the walking you did, burning the calories, I am sure the pastry was not as bad for you as you think. And I would order the Chocolate Brownie pudding!!! emoticon
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    2101 days ago
    Once again beautiful pictures to illustrate your walk. I should go compare these ones with the walk you took not that long ago to see how much difference there is with the start of a new season.
    Good job on passing up on the meal you would have liked, for the one you chose. The portion size looks perfect, so I don't think you did too badly at all. And I just read an article on SP that actually said that potatoes have received a bad rap, and that they are good for you (in moderation of course).
    And DRAT the label on your socks. Oh well, it is a great excuse for getting to shop for a little something extra for yourself ;o)
    2101 days ago
    How lovely! I am chuckling about the dog course and you crawling under the tree twice and the men with their toys and the animal descriptions, etc., etc. You are a gifted storyteller! Thank you for. Sharing your walk.

    2101 days ago
    May I count your lovely walk (except for the blister) as mine since I've been miserably lazy all day???
    2101 days ago
  • COUPONS0216
    I love your adventures and the narrative and pictures are a treat. Thanks so much for sharing, I feel as if I was there in the countryside with you, amazing job!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2101 days ago
    I so enjoyed joining you on your walk today. You have a wonderful gift of making it come alive!
    2101 days ago
  • L1ZB3TH354
    Awesome walk once again. Love the pictures. Thank you so much! emoticon
    2101 days ago
    WELL, my dear! That was quite a trip you took! Thanks for taking us along with you!! Lovely pictures!

    2101 days ago
  • KSCRAP363
    Beautiful pix of another wonderful walk! Sorry to hear about the blister! (Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting...and to answer your question, no blisters although Sis has had some foot and leg cramping this afternoon.)
    2101 days ago
    Thank you for the walk through the English Countryside. It was lovely!!
    2101 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Thank you for letting me know I missed some pictures, I love your pictures. emoticon You describe things so well I could almost see them. Loved the clouds in all the pictures. Hope you sleep well, thanks again.
    2101 days ago
    Oh I enjoyed that walk (vicariously)....:)
    2101 days ago
    Thank you for the trek... Audra
    2101 days ago
    Brilliant blog, plus - "basilisk stare" - you are awesome! emoticon
    2101 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    What a great walk, even if you did have to crawl on your hands and knees. Lunch looks delicious. I didn't know that desserts were called Puddings.

    The pictures were great. Thanks for taking all of us along!
    2101 days ago
    Thank you for letting me know there was more. I really enjoyed your walk today. The pictures make it even more enjoyable.
    2101 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Thank you again for a lovely walk. Lunch looked very yummy. I would have been very tempted by raspberry creme brule. emoticon
    2101 days ago
    What a great photo report. Thanks for sharing.
    2101 days ago
  • EABL81
    Another great walk. Good on you for forgoing the cake!
    2101 days ago
    What great photos and what a beautiful trail! Too bad you didn't have someone to share the pudding with! -- but the meal looked great.
    2101 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Another great adventure. Thank you for bringing us along. I do feel like I emoticon am there with you.
    I have that problem with socks, I always make sure there is no printing on them. Have a great weekend.
    2101 days ago
  • SPEEDY143
    emoticon your pictures are lovely... I especially like the reflection of the clouds in the water emoticon Your description of your trek was just what I needed today emoticon I'm feeling just a bit emoticon for myself. I had a bad fall yesterday and couldn't attend our grandson's flag football game or his sisters soccer game today which means no communing with nature either emoticon So your blog is wonderful emoticon as I nurse a very sore knee and look forward to next weekends outing.... thanks again for sharing emoticon
    2101 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    Another lovely blog. Thank you. emoticon you make me happy!
    2101 days ago
    I love the photos showing the reflections of the clouds in the water. So, so pretty!! I was talking to a friend today and told her about your "walks". Proper treks they are. You walk miles and miles!!
    2101 days ago
    Love your descriptions and your photos! It's like coming along in your backpack, without the sounds and smells.
    Have a blessed day!
    2101 days ago
    Sounds like a lovely way to spend the day, except for the blister. Your writing is very descriptive i almost feel like I was on the journey with you. Thank you for your lovely story today. emoticon
    2101 days ago
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