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A scoutmaster

14 June 2019: Boreham to Little Baddow LockA large house beside a weir

Start point grid reference: TL 757 096GPX file

This morning seven of us gathered at The Queens Head in Boreham for a walk of 4¼ miles, led by my wife and myself. It is one of the easiest walks our group does; my wife and I have led it two or three times before.

On leaving the pub we walked due east along the road until taking a farm track which also leads east. Since we last led this walk developers have started building a residential development just to the north of the junction with the track. The rest is still farmland, with the track taking us between barley fields. We could hear the larks singing.

There is a gate across the track after a few hundred yards but it is a public right of way and pedestrians can easily walk round the gate. At the entrance of the drive down to Culvert Farm there is a board stating that it is also the Phoenix Pet Crematorium. We did wonder whether they have to follow similar rules to those applying to public crematoria. Does the cost of a pet cremation vary with the size of the pet?

The track, which is quite broad, continues east before turning south to pass Belstead Cottage before reaching the road down to Paper Mill Lock. At Belstead Cottage we were greeted by a barking dog, the first time I can remember seeing any life there.

We crossed the River Chelmer on the bridge by the lock, stopping to look at the large trout in the river below. On the other side of the bridge we joined the towpath and went west. As we reached the navigation buildings I announced that the toilets there were the last ones until we got back to the pub. I intended it as a joke but most of our group disappeared to make use of them.

When we had all gathered again we continued along the towpath, which was much less muddy than the recent rain led me to expect. We saw a number of damsel flies and admired the view of Little Baddow church, which can be reached via a footpath from the river.

The towpath crosses over to the north side of the river at Church Road. We waited there for a short time to let a couple with a large dog pass. Then we walked on to Little Baddow Lock. At this point there is a bench and lock gates to sit on, so we stopped for our coffee break. The photograph shows the mill house opposite the lock.

After coffee we continued along the towpath until we reached the farm track which leads back to Boreham. We took this as far as the driveway to Boreham Hall Farm. As usual, we were struck by the rusting machinery beside the farm track. This includes what looks like a 1950s Bedford army lorry. I am sure it would make a great restoration project for someone or a group with the necessary skills but I don’t think it has moved for years.

On the other side of the farm we would normally take the public footpath that leads straight on. However, when my wife and I did the dummy run we discovered that it was overgrown with rape. We did force our way through it for fifty yards or so but then gave up and turned round. On this occasion we took the group north along the farm track and then turned east along the path that runs parallel to the stream. This is not a public right of way but we didn’t think anyone would object in the circumstances.

Going this way does mean you have to keep a sharp look out for the footbridge across the stream, which is where we rejoined our normal route back north to Boreham. This took us underneath a large bough that looks as though it is going to fall off the tree as some point. We got underneath this safely and continued along the path until we came out back in Boreham opposite the pub, where we all enjoyed excellent meals.