13 September 2019: Minnow End to Walthambury Brook
Start point grid reference: TL 701 131GPX file
There were ten of us on today’s walk, which my wife and I led. We were going to lead it last month but had to cancel the day beforehand for various reasons. It was six weeks since we did the dummy run, which meant my memory of the route wasn’t as good as it should have been and I had to check on my smartphone from time to time.
We started from The Rose and Crown at Minnow End. On previous walks from there we have gone south but this time we walked a short way north and then followed a footpath sign that took us diagonally across a field and then along a bank until we reached the Chelmsford Road on its way through Great Waltham. We crossed the road and took the path behind St Mary & St Lawrence Church to Main Road. We walked north along the road for a short way, crossing Walthambury Brook and turning left to follow another footpath.
One of our number who lives in Great Waltham told me that there have been complaints about the state of this footpath, which is a public right of way. The farmer claims it is eight feet wide. Well, it is if you measure from the hedge but most of it is an overgrown bank, leaving just a narrow strip that is walkable. All the fields have been harvested since my wife and I did the dummy run.
The footpath reaches Bury Lane and continues immediately opposite. We encouraged everyone to climb the side of the small reservoir to have a look at it. (See the photograph.) Apparently it is famous for attracting grebes; we saw four.
The path skirts the south side of the reservoir and then continues west before skirting round the next reservoir. Along here we saw some partridges, which flew up into the air as we approached.
At this second reservoir we turned south and saw two large herons. The path crosses Walthambury Brook and then goes east along the edge of a field. At the corner of the field we went right into the next field and then stopped for coffee. It was a warm day so we were very happy to spend some time relaxing there.
We then walked south. The Ordnance Survey map shows the path as going straight at this point but it actually goes along the field boundary to a corner where it then cuts diagonally across the field to reach the road.
We walked west along the road and took the first turning on the right. We were passed by a number of vehicles.
After a few bends this road comes out to Breeds Road. The GPX file shows the route going left along Breeds Road but in fact a footpath runs behind the hedge on the south of the road; the entrance is not easy to spot. (Look slightly to your right as you reach Breeds Road.)
When it meets Breed Farm the path turns south before crossing a small stream. It then runs east alongside the stream, crossing Hoe Lane (where there is a short but steep bank to climb) and continuing onward to a T junction in the path. At this point we turned right and walked by the trees to Ball’s Farm, where the path turns left to go back to Minnow End.
Ten of us did the walk but one did not eat at the pub because she needed to get back to the city for a meeting. The rest of us enjoyed very excellent meals.