It’s amazing what a good 8 hours sleep can do for you: a much better day today aided by some glorious weather and a much easier and more scenic route. I was also confident of the route as I had done a practice run of this section about 10 days ago. I tried to redo it from memory, but it’s surprising what you forget in a short amount of time.
The first part continued through the Lea Valley park, adjoining the railway until Broxbourne. This part was the easiest and a great way to start. the ground was thrawing from the frost so neither too hard nor too soft- ideal conditions for running. Added to that the joy of being in green space, even if by the railway. The place is quite popular with dog walkers and I was tickled to see a couple of dogs wearing fluorescent onesies as I passed. I do prefer though to be on my and not see anyone- it’s the best way to keep focussed and to remain in the moment.
The next section was a foray into disobedience: a section of the park was closed off seemingly due to ‘contaminated land’, but it was hardly inaccessible and I had tried it previously and survived. It’s just that it is not landscaped and quite rough ground, but quite exhilirating to be completely on my own and a joy to see a couple of roe deer run across my path in the distance. In any case there was no other way to go without taking a huge detour and it did join a legimate path (as least so the map said) towards the end. This came out at the only industrial plant I had to make my way round: pretty huge and belonging it seems to Scottish Power. Why this is in Essex, I’ve no idea.
From this to a towpath along the River Stort all the way to Roydon. Some interesting boats and people seemingly living off-grid -seems really idealistic, particularly when the sun’s out. A far cry from yesterday and much easier on my feet to be running on softer ground. From here it’s pretty much a straight run (forgive the pun) along the Stort path, all the way to Sawbridgeworth. I tried a section on the other side near Harlow Town to have a bit more of a sense of discovery and got a bit lost for a while before rejoining the path near Harlow Mill. Nothing too worrying and I tried to see whether the river path would take me to where I’m staying tonight. I should have trusted myself: it does. I was worried and cut across some fields too early only to find myself having to precariously cross some water along an overhanging tree. Alot of unnecessary time and effort, but I was tired and not thinking straight. Even though the route was straight forward, 16 plus miles does take its toll
I arrived at my destination too early for check in and had to wait in the cold for a while until the owners appeared. But it’s a lovely place and it’s a shame I’ll be off in the morning.
This next one is a bit of an unknown quantity: the first part continues the Stort until Bishop’s Stortford and then I’m trying to figure out when I can continue at least until Standsted Mountfitchet. From then on it’ll be a case of working things out with what I can access without resorting to too many roads or getting stuck the oterside of some water…
It’s also probably the longest stretch so I can’t afford too many detours… I’ll write the next blog post from the other side…
On the up side, it’s been heartening seeing some messages come through via the Locatoweb.com site and good to see that the tracking is appears to be working,