By Yasmin Gregory
Yasmin Gregory is a qualified lawyer, writer, bad cyclist and an even worse runner. Yasmin spends any spare time with her family, playing her piano, saving cycle paths and avoiding doing her ironing.
I have been a resident of Harlow since 1987 and, over 30 years later, am still discovering parts of the town that take my breath away for all the right reasons.
One area in particular is the River Stort. I can only remember cycling along the river and through the woods from Harlow Mill to the town station on rare occasions from when I moved to the Old Town in 2001. I was using the routes to get from A to B and wasn’t being mindful or aware of my surroundings.
Fast forward to 2018. I joined Harlow Running Club and began doing short runs along the river. I became more aware of people using the paths to walk their dogs, cycling to commute or in groups where their destination was the Mudchute Café on the Isle of Dogs for a well earned coffee and cake. I also began to be more aware of the change in the trees, the river activity, the vastness and beauty of the countryside which was invisible to me for so many years.
A recent Canalability trip along the river was accompanied for part of the journey by a family of swans which included the cob and pen and their cygnets. I was mesmerised by their beauty and how they glided alongside, sharing the space that nature had gifted us.
I saw people of all ages and abilities using the paths to walk, run, skip and cycle either on their own or with family and friends. Everyone was using the path as it was intended – for their own journey. There were places along the way where people were sat just taking in the moment. This special space was allowing each and every one of us time to just be.
I have discovered the following about the river and its surroundings:• There is an ancient Roman Burial site tucked away and in desperate need of being cared for. The Harlow Temple was a religious site in the Romano-British period. Prior to the erection of the temple, the space had housed a Bronze Age pound barrow and then an Iron Age ritual centre.• Parndon Mill was mentioned in the Domesday book and have classes and studios open to the public• There is a thriving community along the river of people who live and work along the river.• The wildlife, flora and fauna are there to be seen and enjoyed.• Every day is a nature lesson and so very different.• If you run from Harlow Mill bridge to the Station, that’s around 5km.• From Harlow Town Station, near Burnt Mill Lane, to Roydon Crossing, that’s also around 5km.
It is important that we retain this heritage for the future families who will take time out of their day to savour the moment of the awesomeness that nature has gifted us.
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