The first day of the next stage of our travels. We are travelling up the east coast and then across the Scottish border before returning to Pitton in early August. At the weekend we had a very enjoyable evening with our friends Stuart and Mandy and outlined our route. Stuart suggested we skip our first stop just outside of Chelmsford. We do not know this area at all so we were then unsure of our decision to split our journey to Suffolk.
We are staying close to Little Baddow and yesterday, our first, evening we took a short stroll and soon realised what a lovely spot this is. During the night we had a brief thunderstorm. When snug in the Unicorn the sound of heavy rain rattling on the roof and awning is comforting.
We awake to another bright, sunny morning, we intend taking a long walk later in the day so I head off for a leisurely, morning stroll with the boys. We take the footpath running through the churchyard of St Mary’s the Virgin and head across open fields towards the River Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. At the river we turn left and then quickly right over the road bridge to join the riverbank towards Chelmsford.
The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation is the result of the canalisation of the Rivers Chelmer and Blackwater. In total it runs 13.75 miles from Chelmsford to the sea lock at Heybridge Basin. The canal opened in 1797 and is said to be still navigable. It has twelve locks and it is not long before I encounter my first, Little Baddow Lock, it’s picturesque weir warrants a brief picture stop.
Walking on the towpath is easy, relatively flat and no problems following the route. The birds are in full song and few folk are about. In fact the first person I encounter is a chap taking a breather on the gates of Stonham’s Lock. He has two dogs in tow, an old retriever that eyes the boys from a distance and what turns out to be a young Springer/Labrador Cross called Cocoa. Cocoa is as lively as can be and I sympathise with the chap about the length of time it will take before she calms down.
Our next encounter is with two Pekinese’s. There Mum is well turned out for dog walking, and looks like she has just left the sunbed. The little dogs have ribbons in their fur. I am loath to stereotype, but it is a sight you are unlikely to encounter on the top of the Quantocks. The next lock we come to is Weir Cuton and soon after we take the footbridge over the water to head across open fields.
On reaching Hammonds Lane we go straight across to join Grace’s Walk heading towards Grace’s Manor. It is said that in the 1600’s Lady Alice Mildmay drowned herself as a result of her husband’s cruelty and that she haunts Grace’s Walk. The boys and I don’t encounter anything spooky, but the phone is close to hand in case a call to ghost busters is required. I am not one for ghost stories, but I do enjoy the one told by Jethro, needless to say it is too rude to share in this blog.
Turning left at the road and walking along New Lodge Chase, at the junction I cross over and join the footpath back to Little Baddow Fruit Farm. The boys and I have covered almost six miles, mostly accompanied by my singing of that classic from Oklahoma “Oh what a beautiful morning”. It has been a cracking start to the day.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map 183 – Chelmsford & The Rodings
20th May 2014
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2014)