An occasional blog about walking in the edgelands of North East London and various other places

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River Roding: Leg 9 - To the Source ...

River Roding: Leg 8 - The Roding Villages

Across to Two Tree Island

River Roding: Leg 7 - Through Fyfield

River Roding: Leg 6 - Upstream to Ongar

The Land Art of Theydon Bois

What Is It With All This Walking and Writing?

The Heights of Epping Forest

River Roding: Leg 5 - Out of London

River Roding: Leg 4 - Through the Leafy Suburbs

River Roding: Leg 3 - Ilford up to Woodford

The Lost Lido of Leytonstone

River Roding: Leg 2 - the Barking Barrage to Ilford

River Roding: Leg 1 - Thames to the Barking Barrage


Leg 9: To the Source …

20 July 2017

I started the final leg of my walk up the River Roding from the church at Great Canfield. The Roding runs by the side of the road that passes through the village, but was covered by a thick mass of vegetation that made it impossible to tell if there was any water running underneath. I was rather concerned that the upper stretch of the river would have dried out in the hot July weather; however, half a mile further on, near a footbridge crossing, I found that its waters were still flowing.

The River Roding at Great Canfield. But is there any water under all that foliage?

Half-a-mile upstream, the river was still running

By following footpaths and field edges I was able to stay fairly close to the river for the next few miles, even though it was only visible from the occasional footbridge. At one point I passed a field that was full of a crop with bright purple flowers.

After about three miles, I crossed the Flitch Way - a 15 mile walking and cycling route that runs along a disused railway. The name comes from a ceremony in the village of Little Dunmow whereby a married couple who could prove prove to the satisfaction of a judge and jury that they had not argued for a year and a day would be awarded a flitch (side) of bacon. A hundred yerds further on, I crossed over the B1256, which runs between the M11 and Great Dunmow and follows the route of the old Roman road. I then walked along a lengthy driveway which took me through the grounds of Little Canfield Hall, although I couldn’t see the old hall that I had been expecting - just a few farm buildings and several newly built houses and barn conversions.

From here, I passed through a field containing a rather large hog (maybe destined for the next Flitch Ceremony at Little Dunmow) which fortunately seemed more interested in eating than in my intrusion onto its home patch. From here I followed a farm track over a bridge across the busy dual-carriageway of the A120.

From the bridge, I could make out the path of the Roding as it wound its way through the crop fields to the north. It was now possible to carry on beside the river for a while before taking a diversion up to the road at Bamber’s Green - the home of yet more barn conversions and thatched cottages - and then following the Harcamlow Way back down to the Roding. I was now getting close to Stansted Airport and could clearly see the aircraft as they made their ascent into the skies; the Roding’s waters start from under the ground that is now covered by the airport’s runways and terminal buildings.

The River Roding gently meanders through the crop fields

This far upstream the Roding no longer contained any flowing water - just small pools interspersed by dried-out lengths of streambed:

I was now about a mile away from the end of the walk, slowly making my way through the overgrown vegetation and shoulder-high nettles at the side of the field, and carefully crossing the river over a fragile-looking plank bridge:

Just a couple of hundred yards from Molehill Green, the Roding passed the village cricket field. A gate appeared to lead straight into the river, although I suspect that there’s a plank bridge underneath all that vegetation:

Eventually the overgrown channel containing the River Roding disappeared into a mass of impenetrable nettles and bushes, passing a few yards to the side of an odd, circular construction:

In fact the road at Molehill Green is just fifty yards away, and can be reached by turning right and out through a gap in the hedge. It seems evident from the map that the Roding arises from behind this small cottage:

So I had walked all the way from the River Thames only to find that the source of the Roding was just as unattainable as when I started. Whether its waters flow from a spring, a pipe, or a portal from another dimension, I had no way of telling. But then it’s not the source that matters … it’s the river.