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50 Years of The Essex Way: Marking the Land
Sat, 17 September 2022,
St Mary the Virgin (St Mary and St Peter) Fairstead Hall Road Fairstead CM3 2AT

To mark its 50-year anniversary, artists Shaun C Badham and James Ravinet present a free guided walk along a small section of The Essex Way; an 81-mile-long waymarked footpath from Epping to Harwich founded by Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) in 1972.

The act of moving through the landscape is underpinned with complex histories and laws which identify it as a potentially radical act in the context of infringement of rights and the rising cost of land. Traversing public and private land, walking is often closely tied to leisure, however, historically many routes have been established for religion, commerce, as a form of protest or campaigning. The recent work of campaigners has seen the government cancel a deadline for registering forgotten paths under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, validating the importance for public access to be maintained in the countryside. To this end, this project aims to celebrate the alternative exploration of the county in lesser known environments, expanding upon a network of walking routes that exemplify the diverse and various nature of the region.

As we move through the land, we will observe linear/non-linear markings, land-use and history, offering reflections, as well as encouraging contributions from those with specific local knowledge. Contributors include: James Ravinet, Shaun C. Badham, David Boyle, Victor Roome, Susan Poole, Philippa Stewart and Peter Jepson.

About the route: A 4.5 mile circular walk along the Essex Way from Fuller Street to Fairstead that includes several unique examples of architecture, history and artworks that exemplify how walking can help us to re-engage with our environment through a heightened awareness of the conditions around us. Beginning at Fairstead Parish Church, with its remarkable 13th century fresco paintings of the Passion Cycle, the walk traverses open countryside, farmland, wood, and hedgerows. The route also passes by the Essex Way information point at Fuller Street, with an opportunity for a break at the Square and Compass pub; a notable destination which includes an original hand-drawn map of the ‘Ley Lines of Essex’ by the author and artist Terry Johnson. The route will also take us past Terling Smock Mill before looping back through tranquil woodland to Fairstead.

Observations, extracts and documentation from this guided walk will be incorporated into a new publication that will be available later this year. 50 Years of the Essex Way is supported by the Arts and Cultural Fund awarded by Essex County Council.

Digital Photography: Philippa Stewart
Analogue Photography: Shaun C. Badham