The sun really took his hat off for supporters of the Essex Rural Fund on Saturday 20th April as they rambled their way through the Colne Valley, and although the bluebells are being coy this year, the lack of blue carpet on the valley floor did not detract from the beauty of the scenery.
Amongst the 80 plus walkers were Essex County Council Leader Peter Martin, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, and High Sheriff of Essex Julia Able Smith.
Walkers travelled by vintage London bus to the start point in Buntings Green. After a valiant effort by the bus to get all 69 passengers up the hill in Colne Engaine, and possibly frightening a few residents who peered out of their bedroom window to be greeted by people peering back from the top deck, we were met by RCCE Chairman George Courtauld, with a few more walkers. George led the party from Buntings Green across his land to visit the Millenium Green at Earls Colne, where Sheila Boyce and John Bundall met the group to give them a brief introduction as to how the Green came about.
The walkers then carried on across beautiful countryside towards Greenstead Green, where they were spurred on by the smell of soup and barbequing sausages, wafting towards them from where hosts Anthony and Phillippa Clifton Brown had kindly set up an idyllic picnic spot by their lake.
After a well-earned rest and a general hoover around for any dropped sausages by the many four legged supporters in the party, the walkers took their leave and continued on to Marks Hall.
Jonathan Juke, curator at Marks Hall Arboretum led the group on an hour and a half tour, pointing out the many wonderful specimens of tree and giving an interesting account of the history of Marks Hall.
The day ended with a much needed drink (and ice-cream) at the tearooms. RCCE President, David Boyle thanked Jonathan for a most interesting tour, and then thanked all those who had joined the walk and donated so generously, as well as those who had not been able to come but had also contributed, saying that the walk will have raised in the region of £12,000.
Special thanks go to the staff and trustees who gave up their time to help organise and manage the event, to the Clifton Browns for use of their beautiful lakeside garden and facilities, to Jonathan Juke and the staff at Marks Hall for their warm welcome, and to all those who were with us in body or spirit, which made it such a memorable day!