Pics contributed by Simon; map by Cristina; words by Glen
Halstead derives from old English words “heald” and “stede”, respectively meaning a sloping hillside and a place of shelter.
And thus it was that 22 walkers sloped off from the middle of this Essex town, passing almshouses opposite the River Colne and Halstead’s historic Townsford Mill, a relic of bygone silk weaving heyday years. There wasn’t too much of a place of shelter thereafter as wended our way out into undulating countryside but the breeze was offset by general brightness, sunshine and group bonhomie as the prospects of spring not being far way were later evidenced by daffodils in bloom to accompany oft-spied snowdrops.
The low-key Gosfield Pits Nature Reserve (the locals don’t like advertising it) with its hollows and ponds served as a good snackstop, and we were impressed by the extent of Gosford Lake, though less so by its billing as a “resort”. Gosfield’s Kings Head pub served a useful purpose for a short stop even if service wasn’t great, and those who sat outside found themselves in a pleasant sun-trap like setting.
Skirting next the site of the former Gosfield Aerodrome, we passed through the Forestry Commission’s Broak’s Wood on our way back towards Halstead, pausing to take in some panoramic views of the attractive Colne Valley. Half the group went on to the Bull Inn afterwards, soon after which the onset of a sharp snow/ sleet shower saluted our fortuitous sense of timing.
(The Halstead Hike walk of March 4th will cover different rural territory to the east and north of the town.)