This is a bluebell walk in the woods near Stansted, so go mid-April when birdsong in these fine woods will be good as well.
Park opposite Christchurch, Forestside, roadside bay, SU756124. The church built 1856, usually open, pine pews, ceiling ovoid like a Viking boat upturned, a supposed carved likeness of Queen Victoria.
I completed this new walk on March 5, when the big male yew tree in churchyard was blowing pollen and his wife nearer the church was receiving.
Walk east under 180-year-old beeches with rookery, following the forest edge. Scots pines, hollies, chestnuts, larches and old hazel coppice with some old cherries too, and plenty of bluebells.
Stay left on yellow arrow then ahead on yellow past two more rough old cherries.
Look for a massive Turkey oak 100m farther on past crosspaths. Its leaves are like barbed spearheads. Another after 100m, this one siamesed.
Woodland path now turns left, east, under a deer hide to cross open fields sheltered by a trim hawthorn hedge. Trig point in field on left, spot height 109m ASA.
Our path kinks southeast at a water trough, for Broadreed Farm, where we turn left on blue northeast. Note Eucalyptus trees and some Norfolk reeds in diminishing garden pond. Georgian cottage on edge of wood we pass, and turn after entering wood, sharp left on blue.
Note old beech blasted by shotgun pellets amid ancient graffiti.
This soon becomes another bluebell wood so it’s a very nice place to be.
On a huge beech log along the way I ate my lunch, noting various woodpecker holes in dead ash trees, marsh tits calling, also nuthatch, great tit and blackbirds.
Noting the honeysuckle I imagined this wood will display white admiral butterflies in July. Some enormous badger setts, fallow deer slots and also roe deer.
Towards the end of this charming old wood I marvelled at the tenacity of two beech trees clinging to the edges of an old chalk quarry on left of path. Chalk used to be spread onto flinty acid fields to sweeten them.
Left up Oldhouse lane, then after 200m left on blue arrow to pass Lodge Farm with its display of curiously-worded printed notices.
One said ‘I do not wish any more chickens to be plucked alive’ (ref loose dogs). Another suggests ‘It is a good idea not to surprise mammals or cars’.
Rather like the foreign translations on imported goods which are interesting.
This path continues southwest to rejoin our woodland where we turn back right, possibly surprising a deer or an old wooden car or something else of that sort which was minding its own business.
* To view a map of this walk see the March 22 issue of the Observer.
** This Saturday, March 24, I shall be signing copies of my new Sussex Walks book in Waterstones, Chichester, 10am-2pm. See you there!