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Walking through Orsett Fen

A fen-tastic way to spend a Sunday morning

What a ‘fen-tastic’ way to spend an early spring Sunday morning, with a walk around the Orsett Fen area of south Essex – the last piece of Essex fenland to survive, into the 1960s.

Wide open and feeling a long way away from the Essex ‘ridges’ of Langdon Hills to the east and around Brentwood to the north, the ex-fenland area also includes Bulphan Fen and Stringcock Fen.

Heading out from the historic village centre – which boasts two good pubs, a bustling village stores and a surprisingly large hospital – it was a very peaceful place for an Easter Sunday morning walk.

Not a long walk mind, just five miles and under two hours with a coffee stop, but heading out into a landscape feeling ever slightly remote and lonely, there was plenty to see and admire. Wide arable fields spread out after heading along country lanes to the north to leave civilisation behind, with field paths following tree and hedgerow-lined streams.

You can certainly imagine it as a land of the fens going back a hundred years, open and flat and verdant. Although as I headed north into Bulphan Fen there were a couple of fields as dry as a bone after a April largely without rain.

Contrast that with a beautiful line of Crack Willows across a stream-defined field boundary, before the turn back to the east and south, returning towards Orsett via safe country lanes and more dry foothpaths.

It’s one of those Essex landscapes that delivers you the open vistas and big skies of East Anglia. Fill it with a cacophony of spring birdsong – chaffinches, great tits, and slightly less eloquent crows, to the fore – and it was a refreshing space to start the day. And somewhere I’ll certainly be bringing walking groups in the future.'s one of those Essex landscapes that delivers you the open vistas and big skies of East Anglia


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