To continue. From Feering we walked on. The directions we had printed off were somewhat scant, and we quickly realised that it would have been helpful had distances been mentioned. There was also an instruction that told us to do something just before reaching somewhere. As the notes said, this is a walk popular with local walking groups, and it seemed local knowledge was required too.
As usual Celia was in charge of the notes while my job was to take photographs. There were several moments where we were not sure if we were in the right place, so to find the Plank Bridge and cross it was a relief. Fortunately the terrain was mainly easy and pleasant. The sun came and went. Likewise a stiff breeze. At one point it looked like it might rain. We were fairly sure we had missed a turning to Skye Green only to find a rather overgrown sign announcing it just after this finger post.
We never did find Lees farm, but emerged in more or less the right place opposite a thatched house. It had a bench in the garden where we were tempted to eat our packed lunches, but the plastic flowers put us off, though I liked the thatcher’s sign of ducks and ducklings on the roof. Soon we were walking into Coggeshall town and getting our first sights of solid, attractive houses.
I think I may have mentioned it already, but Coggeshall has, we learned, some three hundred listed buildings. We must have walked by most of them as we eventually found our way to the centre of town after the longest 0.7km ever recorded. There were very few indications of distance in the instructions and it would have been helpful if this one had been accurate. Once again we assumed we had missed our turning, or that it had been built over. But no, suddenly there was the Recreation Ground and a walled passage on the other side we walked through to the town centre.
Neither of us was prepared for Coggeshall. We knew a nurseryman from our part of London had relocated here and in 1808 he was presented with a medal by the Society of Arts for having planted the most extensive orchard in the kingdom, but that was more or less it. So to see house after attractive house was a bit of a surprise. We gazed. I gawped. Maybe Celia did too. We read blue plaques and wandered. The home of a protestant martyr burnt at the stake is now a cake shop.
Almost reluctantly we left the town, passing the old brewery and arriving at the great barn.
On our way to the chapel we passed a volunteer dressed as a monk. The chapel was closed by the time we reached it, but a beautiful exterior nonetheless.
Then the remains of the abbey, a mill, walk along the river where we saw a family of swans, a white cat, and some very desirable residences, then a short rise which led to a fast road with no footpath.
A stoat rushed across the road in front of us as we walked facing the oncoming traffic. Given how vague the instructions had been we weren’t sure how long we had before our turn off. Fortunately it was sooner rather than later. Then we walked through field after field where blackcurrant bushes had been harvested, missing a turning and having to retrace our steps, so we arrived in sight of the station to see our train arrive and leave without us.
It was an hour until the next train. We quickly vetoed the idea of spending the time on the station platform, and instead headed down the road to enjoy a half pint of cider at the pub we had passed at the start of our walk. The evening was mild. We met a lovely dog and her owners. I texted my neighbours so MasterB and the garden cats were all fed.
A good day.