14 September 2018: Writtle Green to Newney Hall
Start point grid reference: TL 677 063GPX file
Six of us set off this morning from Writtle Green. There was a funfair either being erected or taken down; I’m not sure which.
We walked past the north-west corner of the green, along the Ongar Road and then up Back Road. There is a new residential estate being built on part of Daws Farm. Just past this a footpath sign points to the right. We took this path and soon came to hedges covered with ripe blackberries. My wife and I were leading the walk and offered to stop while people picked blackberries. There were no takers, despite the fact that my wife had brought along some empty margarine boxes for people to put blackberries in. I picked a few and ate them in passing.
We turned left on coming to a T-junction. We could see a small weather station in the field to our right, powered by a solar panel.
At the end of the path we turned left and then immediately right. There is a farm reservoir in the field to the right of the path. At other times we have seen sheep grazing there. There weren’t any there today but the bits of wool on the ground showed they had been there recently.
On coming to another T-junction we turned left and then immediately right again. The path here leads between high hedges bordering fields, which have been harvested but not yet readied for the new crop. We turned right again when we came out to Victoria Road and walked past the end of Cow Watering Lane. (The origin of the name looks kind of obvious but it would be interesting to know where the cows were watered in the past.)
There is another footpath sign pointing straight ahead just where the road bends right. We ignored this and took another footpath a few yards further on. This leads across a field which has been allowed to grow rough, to a long hedgerow the other side. We turned right to walk along our side of the hedgerow until we found a gap through it. Even though this is signposted it is very easy to miss. I missed it when we did the dummy run.
The gap leads to a wooden footbridge. Once across that we turned right and continued walking on the other side of the hedge. This continues for some way before coming out to a quiet road which, if one turns left, takes one into Newney Green. We turned right instead and stopped for coffee just opposite what is marked on some maps as Newney Hall and on others as Newney Cottage. There was a convenient fallen tree trunk for us all to sit on. We sat there drinking coffee and waving at the occasional passing cyclist.
After our coffee break we continued walking east a short way to the point where the road bends south. This is another place where care needs to be taken. There appears to be a path on the north side of the stream. This should be ignored. The footpath sign is a little further on and points east across paddocks. To get to them one has to climb a stile. It is not obvious that the top bar can be removed for easier access. I was caught out the first time I went that way but knew about it this time so removed it until we had all got across.
There were a couple of very handsome horses in the first paddock. They ignored us as they were much more interested in the hay that had been put out for them. The fields and paddocks here appear to be managed by the Writtle Agricultural University College. We walked through a gate into another paddock and then over a second stile to a footpath between fences.
This leads to a drive down to the road. We walked across the road to the paddocks and exercise area beyond. The footpath then leads straight ahead, through a small wooded area, across a footbridge and then to an open field. It continues across the field. It is not at all well marked on the ground but we could make out the gap in the vegetation the other side which we were making for.
Here we turned left to double back past the reservoir. At the corner we turned left and then, instead of turning right again, kept straight on to turn right at the next footpath.
This leads past a couple of fields. One then has to keep an eye out for the footpath sign pointing to the right. The path here goes across a footbridge and leads past the back of the allotments. At the next T-junction we turned left. I commented that it is the first time I can remember walking past the allotments and not seeing at least one person working there.
The path then continues past the backs of houses to come out immediately opposite the Wheatsheaf, where we had lunch. This is a small, friendly and welcoming pub with excellent food. I can recommend the take-away portions of bread pudding, which are a regular feature.