Sunday, November 05, 2023

Aythorpe Roding, Woodlard Ash and Hellman's Cross walk (and the site of the execution of Elizabeth Abbot for witchcraft?)


Gill and I went today for a 5 mile circular walk in North Essex, starting at the ancient church in Aythorpe Roding. There are 8 settlements that take their name from the River Roding, which flows all the way into the Thames and also via Newham. 

The walk is listed in one of our earliest walking books "Walks for Motorists - Essex" by Fred Matthews (by coincidence the name of my Welsh Grandfather/Taid - no known relative). I think we did this walk around 2000 but have no record or memory of it!

It is only 45 minutes drive from East London but there is a real sense of remoteness and we came across no other walkers (even dog walkers). Only a mother leading her daughter on a pony and a few cyclists (apart from one very short stretch of road with some traffic around Hellman's Cross).  Mostly green lanes and super quiet country roads. We disturbed 4 deer who quickly ran off and we could see bird of prey floating in the skies looking for a meal. 

We stopped off at Hellmans Corner for lunch (a handy bench to sit on) and checked out the recreation of the Stocks and whipping posts at this site by the local council. The last "punishment" recorded is for drunkenness in 1860. However, it also mentioned that in 1683 local resident, Elizabeth Abbott, was burnt to death here for witchcraft. I came across this in a previous walk here in 2011.

However, it seems that there is little evidence that this particular punishment (aka state murder) actually happened

There was a mixture of sunshine and cloud with lots and lots of big Essex skies. No gates or styles. Rolling countryside with no hills or tough climbs. At the end of the walk we went for a drink at the "Axe and Compasses" and enjoyed watching sunset over the nearby windmill (see above). Check out more photos on my Facebook account

No comments: