Thaxted to be highlight of the 2011 Runway Ramble

A VISIT to the historic Thaxted, so beloved by the late Sir John Betjeman, will be the highlight of the annual Runway Ramble being held by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) on Saturday June 25.

The five-mile circular walk is once again being organised for the campaign group by footpaths expert Stuart Walker who has created a series of walks in recent years highlighting the threat to historic homes, countryside and the community from expansion plans for Stansted Airport.

Starting from the centre of the village of Duton Hill, the route will take participants across the rolling fields of north west Essex, along part of the Harcamlow Way to the Thaxted windmill and church before returning through the setting of the small market town past the Guildhall and a different country path back to the original starting point.

There is no charge to take part in the walk whose purpose is to remind people of the need for long term security against the expansion threat.

A spokesman for SSE said: “Thaxted is already very badly overflown by aircraft heading for Stansted, with many pilots coming from the north east lining up their approach to the runway six miles further on using the church spire.

“The area around the airport is not spectacular in the way of the Lake District or the Devon coast but it has its own quiet, distinctive and outstanding beauty.

“In the words of John Betjeman, writing in October 1967 when the area was then facing the threat of expansion: ‘It is a quiet, prosperous, agricultural area of old stone and flint churches, pargetted cottages with red tiled roofs, spreading farms and gabled manor houses, little hills, elms, oaks, willowy streams and twisty lanes leading to towns of such renowned beauty as Thaxted and Saffron Walden. The very fact that this country is so gentle, unobvious and typical of the best of England makes it all the more important that, being so near to London, it is preserved from noise and development’.”

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Hikers will set off at 10.30am after a commemorative photogaph, though the start time is flexible for those who want to begin later (until 2.30pm). Route maps and descriptions are already available online and will also be provided to those taking part. Refreshments will be served to ramblers in the grounds of the Three Horseshoes pub in Duton Hill. Plenty of parking is available.

The event is free (with a small charge made for refreshments) but those who want to seek sponsorship for their efforts or make donations at the event are welcome to do so.

For more information contact SSE on 01279 870558 or see the Coming Events section at