I can’t always go to the hills to walk, and so have to make the best of what’s on my doorstep. Unfortunately, for a hill walker, that best is pretty poor. Not only does my local terrain have very little in the way of ascent, parts of it are actually below sea level, if my GPS and Anquet are both to be believed. Today’s walk was typical of the terrain, and apart from some faffing about in Thorndon Country Park at the start, most of the walk was technically downhill. That’s not to say it was easy though.
Taking advantage of the fact that my daughter was geocaching with her scout troop in Weald Park, I got my wife to drop me off on the way, setting me down in Warley. I knew I was in for a misty day from the journey in the car, but it looked disturbingly thick over where I was due to walk.
I passed the Ford headquarters and continued along the road until I entered Thorndon Country Park. Now me and country parks don’t always get on. I’ve found that an OS map, even at 1:25000 scale is next to useless in a country park, as there are always loads of extra paths that aren’t marked on the map. So I had purposely planned that I would follow the main bridleway down through the park and this would put me roughly where I needed to be for the next stage.
Imagine my surprise then, when after ¾ hour I walked along a wide track and came out by a house. A house that was quite similar to the one at the entrance. So similar in fact that it was the same one. Somehow I’d done a circle. Indeed for the last bit of the circuit I was actually heading north along the path that I eventually took to recover the situation. None of this bodes well for my orienteering club’s next event. No prizes for guessing where it is.
Annoyed with myself, and purely happening because I hadn’t wanted to be seen using a compass when everyone else was dog walking, I turned around and headed south along the edge of the park. I should have done this before as it brought me to Warley Common (if I’d read the sign first time I went past, I’d have realised), where I escaped the wood and joined a road for a short distance. Now on the right path, the long trudge through the fields began.
Soon I was at the racetrack, sorry A127, which I had to cross. But first I scraped the mud from my shoes to reduce the chance of me slipping on it on the dual carriageway. I picked my moment and went for it.
The path the other side of the A127 disappeared into a ploughed up field. It was clearly signed straight across, so I went for it. Mistake. I arrived at the other side of the field with feet twice the weight they were before, due to the mud I’d accumulated en route, walking like a dodgy cartoon character all the while.
Past Nutty’s Farm and an industrial estate alongside the railway. Clearly this path isn’t used much…
Since pretty much all of South Essex’s transport infrastructure goes east-west, the next job was the railway.
Safely across the railway, a direct line through more muddy fields brought me to Blankets Farm, although due to the time lost in the mess up in Thordon, I had to stop on the way for lunch – in a ditch. Now I was on familiar ground though and the rest of the walk was a simple matter of following the Mardyke. Simple, that is apart from the fact that it was another 5 miles walk on top of the 8 I’d already done.