Well, here we are again – another adventure in Bessie.  This time it’s an autumnal visit to the Fens and staying once more at Bramley House near Wisbech.

As last year when we visited the Eastern counties, there are threats of a minor hurricane – this time the tail-end of Gonzalo.  Amazingly, the bridge at the Dartford crossing was open to southbound traffic, including high-sided vehicles, and we were soon through the tunnel.

Instead of travelling on the fast but boring M11, we left the M25 at Junction 28 and threaded our way up through the prettier villages of Essex on various minor roads.  We drove through squalls of rain but the sun came out and we were treated to that wonderful quality of light you get with weather like this.



At Chelmsford we headed north towards Thaxted.  We had not visited it before but something was telling me it might be worth visiting.  I wasn’t wrong.

The wonderful Guildhall looked magnificent in the afternoon sun and behind it peeked the spire of the 14th century Thaxted Parish Church.




We parked Bessie and took a stroll around the small town.  Beside the church are a couple of almshouses, both of which have undergone some restoration over the years.

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Beyond lies the early 19th century John Webb’s Windmill, left derelict during the early part of the 20th century until it underwent substantial restoration in the latter part.  It is now a fully functioning windmill and is open to the public at times.


The town is full of well-preserved medieval houses:



with many of them featuring ‘pargetting’ to the walls.  We found this to be a feature of many houses in the area around Thaxted.

Decorative plaster work known as pargetting

Decorative plaster work known as pargetting

From Thaxted we travelled on to Ely and had a brief look at the Cathedral:


Ely looks an interesting place and one we would like to return to when we had more time.  However, the sun was getting low in the sky and we felt we should resist the temptation to stay a while and get back on the road again.  The wind had got up once more and photos had to be taken through the window from now on!


A field of pumpkins!

Ready for Halloween!

Ready for Halloween!

We knew we didn’t have far to go when we came upon the villages of Upwell and Outwell.

These two villages lie astride the Well Stream. Each is therefore partly in Norfolk and partly in the Isle of Ely. In the Middle Ages they were collectively known as ‘Welle’ or ‘Welles’, and today they are absolutely continuous, so that it is impossible for a stranger to tell where one ends and the other begins. Together they stretch about 4 miles along the old course of the Nene, and are locally considered, probably with truth, to be ‘the longest village in England’ (Victoria County History)


DSC_0240Passing this heap of sugar beet glinting in the dying sun…


…we arrived at our destination – Bramley House – where we received a warm welcome back from our hostess, Jan.

Dinner in Bessie and looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with those fresh cockles tomorrow at Brancaster Staithe!