Ingrebourne Valley

Published by Crisps on

Sundry of the company began by buying coffee and using the facilities at the excellent cafe by the station.  Once assembled we set off uphill, noting the sails of the Upminster Windmill over the rooftops. The windmill dates from 1803 and is apparently one of the best examples of an English smock mill, being almost complete. It is nearly fully restored to working order but unfortunately was not open to the public on 3 February.

Once away from streets we began to follow the Ingrebourne, which rises near Brentwood  and flows for 27 miles to enter the Thames at Rainham Marshes where it becomes Rainham Creek.

The main attraction of this valley is the marshes which are a site of special scientific interest. They provide an excellent opportunity for bird watchers. We were very pleased Barbara was able to join us and after this recce will be taking her bird watching group there in the spring.  The marshes and the nature reserve have been largely reclaimed from RAF Hornchurch from which spitfires flew in WW II; there are many reminders of this military past still visible.

We made good progress to an early lunch stop. The bird feeders at the visitor centre were sadly empty – as almost so was the sandwich selection – but Barbara’s eagle eye spotted a buzzard; the most exciting bird sighting of the trip.

 As the terrain was flat and there was little in the way of challenge we reached the second high spot of the stroll – Rainham Hall – in time for an early and more reliable National Trust tea.

Rainham Hall is a Queen Anne style mansion now owned by the NT and remarkable for the fact that the interior, and its decor, has been scarcely altered since it was built in 1729 despite having been occupied by nearly 50 families and used as a day nursery in WWII. Four of us ventured inside and found it both fascinating and excellent value for money.  There is also a delightful community garden which was cheeringly sprinkled with snowdrops, a calming end to a pleasant day.

Susan Howard.

Thanks to Christine M for the photos

Categories: Walks