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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sunday Walk - Quiet Chalky Uplands of NW Essex: Wendens Ambo (Audley End station) Circular

Length: 23.7 km (14.7 mi) or 17.5 km/10.9 mi
Ascent/Descent: 240 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours (both: full walk)
Toughness:  5 out of 10 or 3 out of 10

Take the 09.43 Cambridge North train from Liverpool Street (Hackney Downs 09.50, Seven Sisters [Victoria Line] 09.57), arriving Audley End at 11.00.
Return trains: at xx.10 and xx.47. Buy an Audley End return.

This is a relaxing walk in the quiet chalky uplands of north-west Essex, on the borders of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, very much off the beaten track, and with gently rolling hills, plenty of woods and copses as well as some pretty villages. Right from the start the walk takes you past picturesque thatched cottages with ample examples of pargeting, a decorative medieval plastering technique, and on through some farmland to the early lunch stop in Arkesden, one of the prettiest villages in Essex with one of the best pubs and loveliest churches.
The route then gently ascends to Chrishall, the dedicated lunch stop on the full walk, along field boundaries and green lanes. Chrishall village is close to Essex’ highest point and the approach offers fine views into the Hertfordshire plain and back down the wide ‘winding valley’ that gives Wendens Ambo its name. After lunch you follow the Icknield Way to Elmdon, with views north out across the Cambridgeshire plain to Cambridge, then alongside a high hedge with views off to your right into the winding valley back to Wendens Ambo. A slightly longer, more westerly route (25.7 km/16.0 mi) takes you over Essex’ highest point itself to Chrishall, this is rated 6/10.

Lunch: The Axe & Compasses in Arkesden (4.9 km/3.0 mi, food from 12.00) for the short walk or The Red Cow in Chrishall (13.1 km/8.2 mi, food to 15.30).
Tea: The Bell Inn, 10 minutes from the station, or The Fighting Cocks, 5 minutes beyond the station.

For walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.  T=swc.116


Thomas G said...

w=passing-clouds-with-plenty-of-sunny-breaks, combined with a fierce breeze. Almost all of the n=10 had not walked this route before. 6 opted for the main walk, 4 for the short version, so we split in Arkesden (one of the many pretty villages en route), with one set going to the pub, the rest to the church (one of three very beautiful churches en route), and then on. Although we didn't walk through any woods, we still got our fill of autumn colours, along the many tree-lined tracks and lanes. Combine that with the sound of the wind in the trees and of the boots on the leaves...perfect.
We had one moment of apprehension when The Red Cow was jam-packed, fully booked and w/o any room to squeeze into. So, an outside table it was gonna have to be, but stoically we ordered food anyway and waited with our drinks in hand near the bar, hoping that a table might become available as and when the food would be ready. And so it came to be. It was a longish wait, but the fare was very tasty as always in this well-run pub. And not particularly expensive either.
On with views into Cambridgeshire and back to the rim of the Wenden valley just in time for the best of the sunset: flaming red clouds and a burning horizon, that stayed with us for a while and we then just about reached Wendens Ambo before darkness. 2 headed straight for the station, 4 to The Bell Inn, where we met 2 of the short walkers. 17.47 train for the last of us.

Amib said...

Just uploaded the video to this walk so a shame that I couldn't do it before you went!
There's still an issue (on top of the bridge one mentioned in the text) with the 'extended' version of this walk, which I didn't do (like you), but was noticeable at Chrishall church; the path up from the B1039 was 'closed' a few weeks ago, for no apparent reason. Did you notice that today?

Thomas G said...

Hi amib, it's been a long time...
That bridge issue is the reason for the path closure: the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the path by the B road has been broken since at least early 2016 when I wrote the text. And the drop down to the stream is too steep and high to contemplate going through it w/o a bridge. Essex may find some money some day to replace it.

Amib said...

Certainly has Thomas! The old hip's on the mend now though and almost back to 'normal', so I'm following in your footsteps once again.
Thanks for the info and hope to see you on Dec 7th ;-)