As a thank-you to all our hardworking volunteers we organised a circular six mile guided walk last month. Led by Kevin Mason, an interesting and diverse route took the volunteers through woodlands, grasslands and green lanes.
We were blessed with a fine sunny day, and set off from the Chipping Ongar heading east through the fields alongside Cripsey Brook. After crossing the River Roding we headed across the old landfill site at the former LECA works. The volunteers noticed the spread of the invasive plant Goats Rue (Galega officinalis) across the site, which they work hard to control on the EFDC’s nature reserve and former landfill site at Bobbingworth. The walk next followed St Peter’s Way besides arable fields and through overgrown field margins.
Several stops were made along the way to look at the flora and for anecdotes about the sites we were passing. The walk made its way to Norton Heath for lunch supplied by the Norton Heath Café. The heath is formed on one of the smallest Essex outliers of gravel and in the early part of the 20th Century was heavily excavated to provide gravel for the Chelmsford to Ongar road A414. Norton Heath was designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2010.
The return trip was made through the fields and along Norton Lane in a westerly direction to reach Norton Mandeville. A stop was made at All Saint’s church and Norton Hall to admire the church and learn a little of its history. After the church we followed the farm track down to High Ongar.
We crossed the River Roding again at the footbridge and made our way back to
Chipping Ongar passing the castle on route. Fortunately we were back at the start before the rain came.
Despite the nettles the walk was thoroughly enjoyed by all and everyone is looking forward to next year’s volunteer treat.
The volunteers said:
“Very many thanks for such a lovely day today. The walk was varied and interesting.”
“It was very interesting to hear some of the local history and to appreciate the splendid views.”