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Essex Walks: Bocking

  1. Description
  2. Directions
  3. Photos
  4. History

Description & Map

Title: Bocking
Distance: 6 Miles
Time taken: 2½ hours
Location: 1½ miles north of Braintree
OS Explorer Map: 195
Grid Ref.: TL 757 256
Parking: [Limited] Outside St Mary's Church Hall, Bocking, CM7 5RX
Bus:busFirst in Essex Bus Number 132, half-hourly to Braintree Bus Station
Train: No train service
Refreshment: High Garrett: The Hare and Hounds
Bocking: Church Street: The Rose & Crown, The Retreat
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 3/3 Easiness: 3/3 Amenity: 2/3 Refreshments: 3/3

[Click image to enlarge]

OS map extract 
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Download and print all 3 for your walk: 1. pdf Download Directions PDF
2. pdf Download PDF photo-set
3. pdf Download Bocking Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen os map Bocking Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Bocking Map (Google)
Bing map Bocking Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Bocking Weather
Bocking Bocking Bocking Bocking

Walk Description

This is a simple, gentle walk through open farmland in the heart of Essex close to Braintree. The paths are clearly marked and well defined, and for most of the route you will be walking along well drained farm tracks wide enough for two people to walk side by side. The route is fairly flat although there are still some nice views to be enjoyed, and the countryside feels blissfully remote and quiet.
Bocking Churchstreet itself is lovely, with a ridiculously big and grand church, some elegant Victorian houses and many historic buildings dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. From the limited car parking in Bocking (P), go north through some imposing gates into the grounds of Bocking Hall. Walk up the drive and turn right immediately past a fish pond (1) to walk along a narrow path leading into a field.
B. Go straight on across the field (2) until you approach a small lane (Fennes Road).
C. A couple of yards before the lane bear left to pass between the trees (3) into another field. There are plans to turn this sloping field into a wildflower meadow.
D. Walk diagonally up this field towards the north west corner. There is a concrete track running along the top. Bear left along this track heading north west (4).
E. After 300 yards you will see a small triangular copse to the right of the track. Turn right in front of the copse, leaving the concrete track and walking along a grassy path along the field edge (5).
F. Continue along this grassy path heading north for a little over half a mile, until hedge line curves slightly to the left. Follow the hedge round and walk along the wide grassy green lane you will see leading north from the corner of the field (6).
G. Continue along the lane to a T-junction. Turn left then right along a stony farm track, passing an open barn on your left (7).
H. Just past the barn you will come to the edge of a field. Turn right to walk around the field edge (8).
I. Continue around the edge of the field keeping the trees on your right until you come to the end of the woods. Turn right along a stony track (9).
J. Walk along this track alongside Bovingdon Wood for a quarter of a mile. The large wooded area ahead of you is Parkhall Wood. Where the woods meet, bear right along the track to pass between them (10).
K. Stay on the stony track beside Bovingdon Wood for 250 yards then continue ahead along the track with a hedge on your left. When you reach the facing hedge go through a gap and turn right along the bridleway (11).
L. Keep going along this path through Shoulder of Mutton Wood then along a lovely green lane to a T-junction. Turn left past an uncomfortable looking seat (12) and walk along the lane heading eastwards.
M. After 300 yards, continue eastwards over a staggered junction with the hedge on your left. Keep going until the track peters out. There is a hedge in front of you. Fork left to walk ahead with the hedge now on your right (13).
N. Continue eastwards along the field edge for a further 300 yards then follow the hedge line sharply round to the right then to the left (14).
O. As you reach the edge of the woods you will see a narrow enclosed path ahead of you (15). Walk south east along this until you come to the road.
P. Turn right along the road (High Garrett) and look for a footpath on the right 140 yards later opposite the MDS engineering works. The Hare and Hounds is about 125 yards further on down the road.
Q. Turn right along the footpath (16) and walk ahead along the field edge. Go through a gap in the facing hedge then turn right to walk around the field. Keep going until you are opposite the entrance point, then look for a wide gap in the hedge on the right with a farm track on the far side (17).
R. Walk along this track for 500 yards passing the steep grassy slope around the Hill and Black fishing lake on your left, then turn left beside a small parking area, still with the fishery on your left (18).
S. Walk south along an enclosed path, then along a field edge, then along a narrow path with trees either side (19). Go straight on over a footbridge and continue ahead into Bocking Churchstreet.
T. Turn right on Church Street and walk down the hill (20). To get a good sighting of Bocking Windmill take the enclosed footpath about 200 yards later on the left side of the road (beside some bungalows set back from the road), and follow it out into the fields.
U. Carry on down Church Street passing the Rose and Crown on the left. Better yet, go in. It's a lovely, unspoiled pub with a glorious beer garden, open all day and well worth a visit.
V. Continue down the road past The Retreat to the parking.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
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St Marys Church, Bocking

St Marys Church, Bocking 
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St Marys Church is built on land once owned by Aetheric, a Saxon Lord of the manor of Bocking, who fought the Vikings at the Battle of Maldon in 991. This was not a good thing: the battle was a rout, one of those curiously British heroic and magnificent failures, such as the Charge of the Light brigade or Rourke's Drift. Men fought and fell : heroes died glorious and courageous deaths. No one from the defending army lived - except those who fled the battle. Aetheric was one of those who survived, and he subsequently willed his lands to Christ Church, Canterbury. One can only speculate as to his motives.
Even now the parish is one of the 'peculiar' parishes, under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The present church dates mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries although a few windows dating from the 11th century have survived. Inside the church, in front of St. Katherines Chapel, there is a brass commemorating John Doreward who was Speaker of the House of Commons twice and who also fought for his country, at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
We won that one.


Bovingdon Woods

There are 8 separate but adjacent woods in the local area, together comprising Bovingdon Hall Woods. They are predominately ancient coppice-with-standards woodland. The woods support the largest remaining example of small leaved lime woodland in Essex and contain the only known example the sessile oak-lime type of woodland. Maid's Wood, off to the left as you walk north alongside Bovingdon Wood, contains a small heronry and you might be lucky enough to see these extraordinary birds flying around in the area. Sadly all these woods are privately owned and access is not permitted.


High Garrett

During WWII High Garrett was the base for a small prisoner of war camp for about 200 Italian prisoners. By all accounts, they loved it here and several remained in the area after the war. During the 1960s a MoD microwave radio relay site was set up in the village, operated by a detachment from RAF Wethersfield. They supplied communications for the USAF in Europe. At times, when the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Wethersfield had alerts, High Garrett also became the Combat Operation Center.

 Bocking Windmill

Bocking Windmill

Bocking Windmill is a post mill with a 2-storey roundhouse. It was originally built in 1721 and moved to its present site in 1829. It ceased working at the outbreak of the First World War and was renovated externally in the 1980s and internally in the 1990s. The mill is virtually complete inside and out, and is open to the public on several weekends during the summer months. Entrance is free although donations towards the upkeep of the windmill are welcomed.
A good view of the windmill can be obtained from the footpath which leaves Church Street going south about 50 yards up the hill from the United Reform Church.