The Real Essex Way & Steam Railway
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"The deepest Essex few explore where steepest thatch is sunk in flowers and out of elm and sycamore rise flinty fifteenth-century towers " Sir John Betjeman (1954)
The Essex Way trail is a 81 mile long distance trail starting at Epping and stretching across the county to Harwich on the coast.
This gently paced Sunday stroll is along a 12.5km / 8 miles section of that pathway in the form of a linear walk from Epping to Chipping Ongar, where we will leave the Essex way for the day and "let the train take the strain" with our return journey taken care of by nostalgic steam locomotive to North Weald Bassett where we will board a vintage Routemaster bus to ferry us back to Epping station.
Our route will quickly take us out of Epping into open fields and countryside, before entering ancient woodland, Ongar wood is the first recorded deer park as mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon will of 1045.
As we exit the woodland again into open fields, we will soon pass over the route of the Roman road between Colchester and London and head towards Toot Hill (meaning 'lookout post') where unsurprisingly we will be treated to some great views out across the Essex countryside.
Our journey will take us onward to the small hamlet of Greensted, noted for its ancient Saxon church, the picturesque St. Andrews church is the oldest wooden church in the world dating back to 645 AD and the oldest 'Stave Built' building in Europe.
It is here in this pretty churchyard that we can stop for our picnic lunch and explore the church if you desire or just soak up the sun (weather permitting) before continuing on the final portion of the walk to Chipping Ongar.
Once we arrive in Ongar there will be time for refreshments or you may wish to explore the town, before we board a steam train to North Weald, from here we take the '339' a vintage Routemaster bus from North Weald back to Epping station to conclude our day out in the Essex countryside. (The cost of the combined train and bus from Ongar to Epping is £7 per person please have the correct fare in cash)
What to bring
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Dogs: well behaved dogs are always more than welcome on my walks unless otherwise stated, where ever possible my Shar Pei Leia accompanies me on ODL walks and events.
Food & drink
You will need a packed lunch, and plenty of water and snacks to see you through the day. We will stop for a picnic lunch in the churchyard of St. Andrews Church In Greensted; for your own comfort you may wish to bring something to sit on.
We may stop for a drink at a pub in Chipping Ongar or cool off with locally made ice cream or Tea, Coffee & a slice of cake in the Buffer Stop Cafe at Ongar Heritage station (formally part of the Central line up until 1994).