A heavy downpour didn’t deter 16 people from assembling in the recreation ground car park at 2 pm for the start of our walk. With an array of colourful umbrellas and raincoats, we sheltered by the cricket pavilion for ten minutes or so, until the rain began to ease. Ken took the opportunity to tell us that the park had opened in 1926 and explained a little of its history. We then proceeded westward, stopping to admire the green veined orchids which grow around the perimeter of the park.
We followed the road round to the right and walked along the old farm track that had one led to Great Berry Farm. The Markham family had run a dairy business here until 1969, when it was compulsory purchased by the Basildon Development Corporation.
We continued along the old part of Berry Lane which was very pretty with its overhanging trees. Several of the oaks are estimated to be about 150 years old and we were pleased to find at least two elms trees in good health having been lucky enough to escape the devastating Dutch Elm Disease. Continuing towards Dunton, we were relieved to see that despite the dull conditions, there was a fairly good view of the London skyline to be enjoyed.
At this point the plan had been to take a circular route back to the car park, however, a few people wanted to continue on to the Dunton Visitor Centre and The Haven Plotland Museum, which one or two hadn’t seen before. Therefore we split into three groups, one group heading back as planned. A second group heading for the Visitor Centre for a cup of coffee and short rest, while the third group stopped off to visit The Haven. Although it was an unusual finish to a Memory Walk, it worked out rather well.
Finally, before giving Alan Davies and Jim Grindle a lift back to their hotel, we were able to take them for a drive around the area to see some of their old haunts i.e. Crown Hill, the Crown Hotel (now the Harvester), Westley Heights and Dry Street. Then on past St Mary’s Church and down Old Church Avenue to the old St Mary’s church where we took a walk around the churchyard and saw a muntjac deer. By now the sun had come out which helped to make the churchyard look even prettier. We arrived home about 6 pm