Yesterday we were thinking of going on a day trip but in the end we decided not to. Why did we not go? Because we had worn ourselves out the day before on another day trip.
These were to be purchased from a shop in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. It was only 33 miles from us so it didn't take long to get there and we duly purchased our items and stuffed them in the car.
We walked off into Bishop's Stortford to have a look around. As we were walking away from the shop we noticed the unusual roof.
Shops don't normally have what appear to be strange tapering chimney pots. The reason for those is that the building used to be used for malting. Malting is a process that converts the starch in cereal grain, usually barley, to alternative forms of sugar used in brewing. The conical chimneys of these distinctive buildings emitted a rich aroma of roasted malt, a smell not unlike that of roasting coffee, that permeated the air for miles around.
Those days have long gone but the buildings remain and this one has now been converted to a shop.
We were now in Bridge Street with the 16th century Black Lion Inn just ahead and to our left. This looked to be a fine timber-framed building. There were other nice old buildings in this street.
After walking up Bridge Street we found ourselves in the Market Square with the Corn Exchange on the right and the church tower and steeple showing above the buildings in the distance.
We wanted to see more of the church so headed in that direction. The continuation of Bridge Street westward is High Street and we spotted a very nice timber-framed building.
This local tailors was one of the oldest businesses in the world until 2013 when it closed. Part of the building dates from about 1360, with modern additions around 1545.
A little way up from here, near to where High Street changes to Windhill, we found the church. A rather large, impressive building in a rather small churchyard making photography difficult. It is unusually long at 170 feet with a spire 180 feet high.
Although there was probably a Saxon, and later, a Norman church on the site, the only surviving fragment of those times is the font. The church seems to have been completely rebuilt in the early fifteenth century and it was altered and restored in both the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
Immediately opposite the church is the Boars Head Inn dating from around 1420 (Tudor).
Samuel Pepys frequented this inn and is recorded as having dined here on 26 May 1668.
Just above this point High Street changes to Windhill a wide and attractive street tree-lined on one side.
You can see evidence of the malting industry again in the form of that tapering chimney and the fact that the house is called 'Oast House'.
So, back down Windhill then High Street to this junction where we turned left into Basbow Lane.
We had spotted some colour-washed houses at the far end when we were on our way up the hill and decided to investigate on the way back. This is what we found.
A nice group of old, pretty houses. At the end of the lane there were some steps down to Hadham Road and an interesting building at the bottom of the steps. The building is, apparently, timber-framed covered in plaster and dates from the 17th century with alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries.
We went back down Bridge Street and crossed the road into Castle Gardens where we saw all that's left of Waytemore Castle – the mound on which it was built.
The River Stort runs through the park and the southern part is navigable.
We followed the riverside path for a while and saw yet more evidence of malting in the form of those tapered chimneys.
We had had enough walking by now so headed back to the car having seen most of the interesting parts of Bishop's Stortford and it wasn't until we were headed out of town that we realised we had missed a bit. A group of old buildings on the junction of Dunmow Road and Stansted Road. Oh well, next time perhaps. That was the 'good'.
We headed north into Essex, through Stansted Mountfitchet, and this is when our situation turned Ugley. In fact it was precisely at this point.
Ugley is a very small village just a few miles south of Widdington. It has a lovely little church which unfortunately was locked.
The road to the church was narrow and they don't come much narrower than this. No hope of seeing out to the sides either.
There was a group of attractive thatched cottages and a few modern houses round about and that was 'Ugley'.
We decided to travel the few miles to Widdington. Remember Widdington? We visited that village in July 2010 and wrote a blog report. We saw a medieval barn there but were unable to see inside because it wasn't open but today it was open.
Now is that impressive or is that impressive?
We had come to the end of our day out and so headed home. Most of the journey back is on the A120, a fast dual carrigeway that is rarely busy, but suddenly we found ourselves being diverted off the road near Braintree with no signs to offer an explanation. We had to make our way through Braintree town centre and eventually to home. That was the 'bad'.