Picnic spot on Wicken Water, Arkesden

SWC Walk 116 Wendens Ambo [Audley End station] Circular

27-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Cottage, pargeted house in Wendens Ambo

SWC Walk 116 Wendens Ambo [Audley End station] Circular

27-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Tomb for the Cutte family, St. Mary the Virgin, Arkesden (full size)

SWC Walk 116 Wendens Ambo [Audley End station] Circular

27-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Wicken Water, Arkesden

SWC Walk 116 Wendens Ambo [Audley End station] Circular

27-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Old houses , Wendens Ambo

Wendens Ambo Circular

21-Apr-13 • moontiger on Flickr

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Pargetted house, Wendens Ambo

The decorative facing is called pargetting. Wendens Ambo Circular

21-Apr-13 • moontiger on Flickr

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More thatch Arkesden

Wendens Ambo Circular

21-Apr-13 • moontiger on Flickr

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Wendens Ambo Circular walk

North West Essex hills and pretty villages

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 30-Jun-18 5

Wendens Ambo Circular walk

Wendens Ambo Circular walk
Distance: 23.7 km (14.7 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

Catch the 09:28 from London Liverpool Street, arrives 10:30. T=swc.116
A walk that speaks for itself.
The shorter version of the walk is 10.8 miles long. However the lunch pub is reached after 3 miles. Doing the walk in reverse, one would reach the the pub after 7.8 miles, though they stop serving food at 14.00 hrs.
Perhaps an early and leisurely lunch is appropriate for those wishing to do the shorter version in what promises to be sultry conditions?
The name of the station is Audley End and direct return trains are at 19 and 40 mins. past the hour.
5 off the 9:28. One stayed on the station to “change his socks” and was not seen again – at least not by me. I suspect this “wrong way Johnny” followed the map in reverse. Then I dropped back to change the battery in my camera. Not a euphemism. It was saying it was "exhausted" – it was a little too early for me to feel the same but I never caught the others up. The day was very hot and sunny and by the time I reached Duddenhoe End, after a refreshment stop at the Axe and Compasses, I was beginning to empathise with my camera and doubted the wisdom of the full 14.5 mile walk. Realising the version that turned round at Elmsdon was no longer in the directions, I took the short cut. (I regretted this decision later cos once I reached cruise mode I could have kept going, like that battery related bunny). Note that there is a substantial climb involved in the shortcut. But once you’re up on the ridge, it’s plain sailing. A bit too plain. On return, I made a point of visiting the Bell – a first for me and disgraced myself by asking for the cold fizzy cider rather than the warm still cider they proffered. It was hot – OK? They have a big garden out the back. Nice day out.
Sun, 12-Nov-17 10

Sunday Walk - Quiet Chalky Uplands of NW Essex: Wendens Ambo (Audley End station) Circular

Length: 23.7 km (14.7 mi) or 17.5 km/10.9 mi
Ascent/Descent: 240 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours (both: full walk)
Toughness: 5 out of 10 or 3 out of 10
Take the 09.43 Cambridge North train from Liverpool Street (Hackney Downs 09.50, Seven Sisters [Victoria Line] 09.57), arriving Audley End at 11.00.
Return trains: at xx.10 and xx.47. Buy an Audley End return.
This is a relaxing walk in the quiet chalky uplands of north-west Essex, on the borders of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, very much off the beaten track, and with gently rolling hills, plenty of woods and copses as well as some pretty villages. Right from the start the walk takes you past picturesque thatched cottages with ample examples of pargeting, a decorative medieval plastering technique, and on through some farmland to the early lunch stop in Arkesden, one of the prettiest villages in Essex with one of the best pubs and loveliest churches.
The route then gently ascends to Chrishall, the dedicated lunch stop on the full walk, along field boundaries and green lanes. Chrishall village is close to Essex’ highest point and the approach offers fine views into the Hertfordshire plain and back down the wide ‘winding valley’ that gives Wendens Ambo its name. After lunch you follow the Icknield Way to Elmdon, with views north out across the Cambridgeshire plain to Cambridge, then alongside a high hedge with views off to your right into the winding valley back to Wendens Ambo. A slightly longer, more westerly route (25.7 km/16.0 mi) takes you over Essex’ highest point itself to Chrishall, this is rated 6/10.
Lunch: The Axe & Compasses in Arkesden (4.9 km/3.0 mi, food from 12.00) for the short walk or The Red Cow in Chrishall (13.1 km/8.2 mi, food to 15.30).
Tea: The Bell Inn, 10 minutes from the station, or The Fighting Cocks, 5 minutes beyond the station.

For walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.116
passing clouds with plenty of sunny breaks, combined with a fierce breeze. Almost all of the 10 had not walked this route before. 6 opted for the main walk, 4 for the short version, so we split in Arkesden (one of the many pretty villages en route), with one set going to the pub, the rest to the church (one of three very beautiful churches en route), and then on. Although we didn't walk through any woods, we still got our fill of autumn colours, along the many tree lined tracks and lanes. Combine that with the sound of the wind in the trees and of the boots on the leaves...perfect.
We had one moment of apprehension when The Red Cow was jam packed, fully booked and w/o any room to squeeze into. So, an outside table it was gonna have to be, but stoically we ordered food anyway and waited with our drinks in hand near the bar, hoping that a table might become available as and when the food would be ready. And so it came to be. It was a longish wait, but the fare was very tasty as always in this well run pub. And not particularly expensive either.
On with views into Cambridgeshire and back to the rim of the Wenden valley just in time for the best of the sunset: flaming red clouds and a burning horizon, that stayed with us for a while and we then just about reached Wendens Ambo before darkness. 2 headed straight for the station, 4 to The Bell Inn, where we met 2 of the short walkers. 17.47 train for the last of us.
Just uploaded the video to this walk so a shame that I couldn't do it before you went!
There's still an issue (on top of the bridge one mentioned in the text) with the 'extended' version of this walk, which I didn't do (like you), but was noticeable at Chrishall church; the path up from the B1039 was 'closed' a few weeks ago, for no apparent reason. Did you notice that today?
Hi amib, it's been a long time...
That bridge issue is the reason for the path closure: the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the path by the B road has been broken since at least early 2016 when I wrote the text. And the drop down to the stream is too steep and high to contemplate going through it w/o a bridge. Essex may find some money some day to replace it.
Certainly has Thomas! The old hip's on the mend now though and almost back to 'normal', so I'm following in your footsteps once again.
Thanks for the info and hope to see you on Dec 7th ; )
Sat, 01-Oct-16 9

Saturday Third Walk – The quiet chalky uplands of NW Essex

Extra Walk 116a – Wendens Ambo [=Audley End] Circular (Short Walk)
Length: 17.2 km (10.7 miles). Toughness: 3/10

10:28 Cambridge train from Liverpool Street (Tottenham Hale 10:40*), arriving Audley End at 11:30. If you miss this, the next train (at 10:58) is faster and you'd only be 20 minutes behind the main group.

Direct trains back from Audley End are at 19 (fast) & 40 minutes past the hour. If you just miss one of these and a Stansted Airport train shows up a few minutes later, you could take this and change there for a fast train to Liverpool Street: an Audley End ticket is valid on this route.

This gentle walk through the Essex countryside was fully revised at the start of 2016, acquiring a comprehensive set of directions and a full description of its features. Its new author took the opportunity to add a characteristic extension or two but carelessly left behind this shorter version, compounding his error by describing its lunch stop as one of the best pubs in one of the prettiest villages in Essex (and with one of its loveliest churches too). That sounds good enough for me. The revised Main Walk had its début in February so here's a chance for more leisurely types to try this Short Walk.

The ‘pretty village’ is Arkesden which you'll reach in just over an hour, hence the late train. The Axe & Compasses here is the only pub on the Short Walk route, so given its reputation you might want to call them when you set out and reserve a table. At the end of the walk a short detour will take you to the highly-rated Bell Inn in Wendens Ambo, but if you're in a hurry it looks as though you could grab a drink at the station kiosk.

[Anyone who would like to try the longer Main Walk should take the train an hour earlier. The lunch stop is in a different village but you might bump into the others towards the end, or at the tea stop.]

You'll need to print the directions from this pdf document.

* The National Rail site has now been updated to confirm that the weekend engineering works on this line are only on the Sunday, so Saturday's trains will be calling at Tottenham Hale as advertised. T=swc.116.a
Coincidentally, I've led the full version of this walk yesterday for The Ramblers. What can I report? Perfect walk for a sunny day: all streams and ponds dry, the (few) field crossings a doddle, The Red Cow in Chrishall as good as always, the Elmdon Dial still not re opened, the station kiosk indeed providing for great hot drinks (they have a proper barista coffee machine), chilled chocolate bars, booze etc.. Not sure about their opening hours on Saturday though. Slack walk research, I'd say...
9 for this walk (2 on the early train doing the full walk, 7 on the later) slightly damp start dry later with some sun Not bad at all and nothing like the grim forecast. Wicken Water was bone dry.
The Axe and Compasses didn't disappoint. The walk has been tweaked since map days and I find the tweaks easier to follow. Never saw the others again after Arkesden. The 17:19 was delayed so me and a long walker got the 17:25Stansted Express and changed at the airport for London.
I think I like this walk more every time I do it. The big wide views, the pretty cottages....
p.s The kiosk was open when I passed it 17:15. Did not sample its wares.
3 who took it easy did the 10 mile walk whilst at least 5 of stronger stuff did the 14 mile
Sat, 27-Feb-16 23

Saturday Third Walk [Fully Revised] - North West Essex chalky uplands and pretty villages

SWC 116 Wendens Ambo [Audley End station] Circular - re-routed after a pub closure and fully written up

Length: 23.7 km (14.7 mi) [longer and shorter walk possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 280 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours
Toughness: 5 out of 10
Take the 09.28 Cambridge train from Liverpool Street (Tottenham Hale 09.40), arriving Audley End at 10.30.
Return trains: direct at XX.19 and XX.40, or with a change at Stansted Airport at XX.25 and XX.45.
Buy an Audley End return.
First posting of this former map led walk, now slightly re-routed to involve a new lunch pub, we will take the opportunity to check the walk directions.

To quote the write-up: "This is a relaxing walk in the quiet chalky uplands of north-west Essex, on the borders of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, very much off the beaten track, and with gently rolling hills, plenty of woods and copses as well as some pretty villages. Right from the start the walk takes you past picturesque thatched cottages with ample examples of pargeting, a decorative medieval plastering technique, and on through some farmland to the early lunch stop in Arkesden, one of the prettiest villages in Essex with one of the best pubs and loveliest churches. The route then gently ascends to Chrishall, the dedicated lunch stop on the full walk, along field boundaries and green lanes. Chrishall village is close to Essex’ highest point and the approach offers fine views into the Hertfordshire plain and back down the wide ‘winding valley’ that gives Wendens Ambo its name.
After lunch you follow the Icknield Way to Elmdon, with views north out across the Cambridgeshire plain to Cambridge, then alongside a high hedge with views off to your right into the winding valley back to Wendens Ambo.
A slightly longer, more westerly route (25.7 km/16.0 mi) takes you over Essex’ highest point itself to Chrishall, this is rated 6/10. A shorter route (16.8 km/10.5 mi) cuts out most of the higher ground including the outlying villages of Chrishall and Elmdon, this is rated 3/10." For the short walk you should take the 10.28 train, so as not to arrive too early at the lunch pub in Arkesden.

The recommended lunch options are The Axe & Compasses in Arkesden (4.9 km/3.0 mi) for the short walk or The Red Cow in Chrishall (13.1 km/8.2 mi) [a table has been booked]. For tea it’s either The Bell Inn, 10 minutes from the station, or The Fighting Cocks, 5 minutes beyond the station.
For walk directions click here. Due to server trouble, Grandmaster David C had to create this link for us to the gpx files (one each for main walk, extension and shortcut).
T=swc.116
L=swc.116
Intend going.
I also intend going. Unchartered territory for me.
I intend going as well but on the 10.28 train as I will do the short option with lunch after 3 miles
HOWEVER I can't get the walk instructions as this messgae comes up
Walk Directions
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Any ideas ?
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I'll join the train at Tottenham Hale...
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pdf and gpx files now linked up, see you on the walk.
Intend coming with both neighbours. Cannot download gpx file (never was able, no doubt due to me, not you). Is there any chance to provide a link to a KML file? No problem if not. Have maps as well.
Feel for David with web problems, we are suffering daily outages, lasting hours, at Somerset House this week, no printing etc so disruptive.
Its not you, it's me :)
Links to the files are there now.
Andrew
I will take the train at tottenham hale. I don't know wich train take to return, some advice?
same train to return
SWC 116
10.28 train 6 of us 
Surprisingly pleasant weather though a bit of a wind 
Lots of snow drops and daffodils and lots and lots of fields that one said reminded them of Waiting for Godot
The villages were pretty and the pub in Arkansas was excellent with good food and very friendly service so good that we even left them a tip 
We met 5 of the walkers from the earlier train at the station and
they were so clean of mud that it looked like they had hardly walked any distance at all ? ? ?
That said we were devoid of any mud splatter on our gaiters and no clods on our boots. 
This is only my second time with the group and I was priveldged to meet Monsieur Tigra who apparently is rarely seen oh and we saw birds of prey and were sorely frightened by a canon going off in a field that made our bones rattle as the shock wave went through.
23 (17 long, 6 short)
Perfect sunny winters day!

Delightful lack of mud and fabulous views in the fresh winter sunshine.

Pretty villages, delicious pub and an altogether lovely rabble.

Really wonderful walk but while mostly flat underfoot, we had wide views of gently rolling hills in the distance. Some lovely churches were passed, wonderful lunch and surprisingly lovey dovey company (this will not last). Another great day with the SWC.
Wed, 10-Feb-16 15

Midweek day walk - Wendens Ambo Circular

Wendens Ambo Circular

An easy walk through the Essex countryside

Book 3* Walk 116 *online only

Length : 18 km or 11 miles

Toughness : 2 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:28 am train from London Liverpool Street ( 10:40 am at Tottenham Hale ) to Audley End

Meeting point : Audley End Station at 11:30 am

Tickets : Buy a cheap day return to Audley End

Brief Description

You may find full details of this walk here

Suggested Lunch stop

The Axe & Compasses Arkesden t: 01799 550272

Suggested Tea stop

The Bell Inn, Royston Road, Wendens Ambo t: 01799 540382

Maps

OS Explorer : 194 195

Return train times

Trains return from Audley End at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour.

There are other trains to and from Audley End via Stansted Airport, but these may well be more expensive.
arthur, there doesn't seem to be very many instructions is it easy to get lost follow please?
we'll be fine
Jayne and I intend coming
Thank you Thomas for leading us today. The short cut route passes near a fab fishing lake with bird life. ideal for picnic. Very scenic and a much nicer route than anything else seen in the morning.

If you are re writng the route could I suggest taking a look at the stately home of Audley End the foremost Elizabethan manor house run by English Heritage lived in by Queen Elizabeth I? Also Saffron Walden Essex's foremost village for pubs and medieval buildings a jewel in the crown of Essex fine villages which outshines the countryside of large fields and featureless vegetation in winter.

I left Jane's purse at the station booking office.
Warning to fellow walkers. If you use a rucksack similar to other walkers check before putting your valuables inside. it was only discovered after the owner looked inside to retrieve a banana and found a wallet purse with money and train tickets! We need to exchange phone numbers and make sure we answer our mobiles otherwise Jane's purse would be in East London now.

Hope the longer walkers enjoyed the Bell pub which only opens after 5pm

The Great Newport to Chesterfield walk goes through Audley End and Saffron Walden, Marion
15 overcast to start then sunny
14 walkers off the train, 1 materialising out of thin air at the lunch pub. How she always does it, we'll never know...
Quite a good attendance for a harmless map lead Essex walk with minimal directions onethinks, especially when considering some Wednesday regulars were said to have gone on a different walk of the 'via Clapham Junction' variety.
Well, we were rewarded with the perfect weather for the rolling uplands of Northern Essex, incl. some pretty perfect villages with loads of beautiful old buildings, and a very cosy pub serving excellent food with East Med influences (downside: it comes very early in the walk).
No problems with the route finding, but there may be room for a tweak or two to the route, and maybe a longer alternative routing further West, where there are more pubs to chose from, more conveniently spaced throughout the day.

Order taking at the Axe & Compasses was a bit slow in fairness, while food delivery was very fast, so that some people were already eating before everyone else had placed orders.
Inevitably that prompted the sandwichers to move on (well...the sun had just come out). Later three walkers took the shortcut, the rest stayed together and arrived back at Wendens just as the sky turned red. Most settled in at The Bell for a drink or two. The final two standing then ended up at the SuperTuscan in Spitalfields upon return to the Smoke for some more refreshments.
Thank you very much Marion for re connecting me with my wallet.It would have been a long walk back to London from Wenders Ambo .jfk
Aha, all's well that ends well. I would particularly like to express my thanks to John, who had the common sense to bring a torch, and thereby sparing me the inconvenience of falling headlong into a ditch after a wobbly return to the station from the Bell Inn. It really was a 'grand day out'.
Sun, 15-Mar-15 7 Wendens Ambo Circular (from Audley End)
Sun, 16-Mar-14 10 Wendens Ambo Circular, omitting Elmdon
Sun, 21-Apr-13 2 Wendens Ambo Circular (from Audley End)
Sun, 06-May-12 Wendens Ambo Circular (from Audley End)
Wed, 02-Mar-11 Wendens Ambo Circular (from Audley End)