‪Blackwater Rail Trail‬

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Chris19682013
‪Maldon‬, UK16 مساهمة
يونيو 2019
‪Overgrown in places. Section where you have to walk on the main road by the golf course which is not much fun.‬
كُتب بتاريخ 4 سبتمبر 2019
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Mark B
50 مساهمة
زوجان • أكتوبر 2017
‪Our walking trips usually involve a picnic with a bottle of wine or a pit stop at a pub for a pint and grub, so it was nice to discover a hidden gem of a walking trail that we could pick up without having to drive to get to.
The Blackwater Rail Trail was decommissioned in the 1960’s due to lack of use and, despite having lived in the area for several years, we’d never heard of it, until I stumbled over it by chance during a Google session.
Most of the trail is over slightly rough, but relatively flat terrain. A decent pair of walking boots are recommended as is an ordnance survey map, as it makes navigation considerably easier. Sadly, most of the old wooden public footpath signs have faded or become overgrown so the map is a handy guide to at least keep you roughly in the right direction.
We picked up the Rail trail at the Wickham Mill Bridge just outside Wickham Bishops. To get there we walked from our house in Witham to the Blue Mills Bridge then cut through Benton Hall Golf Course, using the public footpath. The walk across the golf course is incredibly pleasant as it follows the banks of the River Blackwater along the fairways. Just remember you are on a golf course and, despite golfers being intent on ruining their own good walks, it’s considered good etiquette to remain still while they are taking shots.
The footpath leads across a weir then towards a unique wooden trestle bridge that once served as a railway viaduct and was restored using lottery funding. From the viaduct, follow the path around the site of the old Mill (that was shamefully demolished in the 1970’s) and out to the road that goes across the Wickham Mill Bridge.
Crossing to the other side you will find a set of steps that leads down to a footpath. If you’ve brought apples in your lunch, be prepared to surrender them to the pair of very inquisitive field horses that will approach the fence. The footpath leads to a bridle way that will eventually bring you to an abandoned church.
The beautiful, yet spooky, St Peter’s Church has not been used since 1970 and sits abandoned, surrounded by graves. If you manage to read some of the weathered headstones, you will notice some of them date from the 1700 and 1800s. You will also note, with some trepidation, that some of the crypts appear to have been opened....
Time to move on.
Head up the gentle slope to the old bridge that runs over the railway. By heading down one side you can now join the linear path between the trees where the old tracks once ran. This section of the route runs for a couple of miles and is a great place to spot wildlife, including birds of prey, squirrels, badgers and rabbits.
You will eventually emerge in the pretty village of Langford. At this point we made our first boo boo and ended up taking an unnecessary detour past a reservoir and across an open field, although there was a marked footpath, so we weren’t actually trespassing. What we should have done was to walk down to the T junction, hang a left then pick up the trail on the other side of the road where the old station master’s house is. The house is incredibly well preserved, which is probably due to a family living in it. The old station itself was recently given a makeover and a handy information board gives an insight into the history of the railway.
After a mile or so, you will end up in Elms Farm Park which is on the outskirts of Maldon. This is a beautiful, well maintained open area, a favourite of dog walkers and mountain bikers. If you’re lucky you will be able to see masses of small trout close to the river bank while the larger (and tastier) fish jump for flies in the deeper areas.
This is more or less the end of the Blackwater Rail Trail. There are several points to join the main roads and head for the nearest pub or, if you’re still feeling energetic, you can follow the signs and head up the other side of the river to see Beeleigh Falls near the site of the old monastery.
From Witham to Maldon is approximately 7 miles and it took us between 2 - 3 hours to walk one way. We found it easy going and, although a bit muddy in places, there was nothing too strenuous. ‬
كُتب بتاريخ 4 أكتوبر 2017
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