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A scoutmaster

8 February 2019: Galleywood to Crondon HallA 1920s country pub

Start point grid reference: TL 701 030GPX file

As leader I nearly cancelled today’s church ramble because of the awful weather forecast. My wife persuaded me to go ahead and see if any of those who had booked cancelled. None did because of the weather. Nevertheless yesterday morning we had twelve booked and by yesterday evening that had been reduced to ten as two had to withdraw owing to family problems. When we arrived at the Horse and Groom for the start of the walk we were back to twelve again. One of the people who withdrew discovered that she was able to come after all and one person, who did not intend eating at the pub, joined us unannounced.

The route in the GPX file goes first to St Michael’s Church but I decided to leave this to the end in case the weather forced us to go back to the pub as soon as we could. In the event the weather was windy with some rain but not nearly as dire as had been forecast. (My wife has a theory that the BBC has been putting the worst possible slant on the weather ahead ever since they failed to warn people about the 1987 hurricane.)

We therefore set out down Bekeswell Lane and continued in a more or less straight line until we reached the A12. This isn’t difficult to cross as this point.

Once across the A12, we took the footpath west beside the road for a very short distance until we reached a footpath sign directing us through a gap in the fence on the left. The sign looks as though it points straight down the stream but in fact the path goes to the left of this until it reaches a footpath leading to the open fields.

Here the path turn right along the line of trees when it continues on an exposed stretch across the field over the brow of the hill. When my wife and I did the dummy run the path was very slippery at this point but surprisingly it was not nearly so bad this morning despite the heavy rain we’ve been having.

On the other side of the hill the path leads through trees until it reaches farm buildings and a metalled farm road. We walked west along this to the farm by Crondon Hall. We skirted the farmyard and stopped for coffee where the footpaths cross just beyond the farmhouse. Ironically the rain started at this point, so our stopping time was slightly curtailed.

We then took the footpath to the right, which eventually goes between two lines of trees back towards the A12. We could hear the traffic all the time. One of my fellow ramblers remarked that she had never been that way before. I said it was surprising that, after going for 35 years, our group could still find paths in the area that we have never walked before.

When the path reached the A12 we took the bridleway north-west to the Maldon Road and a bridge across the A12. At this point it is possible to continue along the road back to Galleywood Common and the pub but we went down the steps to the right to get back to the footpath, which has obviously been cut in two by the A12.

This footpath then climbs the hill, parallel to the road but only touching it a couple of points. Just before you get to Wood Farm there is a sign saying “No public right of way”. Here the path dives off to the left and skirts the wood to reach Bekeswell Lane. As we had some time in hand, I decided to do the return loop via the church, although we didn’t actually have enough time to go inside.