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Essex Walks

  1. The Centenary Circle
  2. Instructions
Centenary Circle

The Centenary Circle

The Centenary Circle is a circular footpath circumnavigating Chelmsford. The 21 mile long route has been broken into five sections starting at the village green in Galleywood, south of Chelmsford. The anti-clockwise route then visits Sandon, Springfield, Broomfield and Writtle before returning to Galleywood. If you wish to break the walk over more than one day, each section starts and finishes near a bus stop which will take you back into Chelmsford town centre. Apart from shops in the villages on route, each stage ends with a pub for refreshments, except for Springfield where Sainsbury's provide food and toilets instead.

The Centenary Circle waymark shows the profile of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II marking the 100 years from 1888 when Chelmsford was awarded the status as a Borough under the Municipal Corporations Act. News of the Charter of Incorporation was read out to cheering crowds in front of the Corn Exchange : the townsfolk realized that this marked Chelmsford as an up and coming county town, with new civic powers to enact local laws, and to raise and borrow money to spend on land and buildings and municipal utilities. The new borough comprised two wards, North and South, with Moulsham incorporated into the South Ward. Essex County Council was created at the same time, with its main offices in Chelmsford.

The boundaries of the Borough Council can be seen by hovering your mouse over the 'View 1888 Chelmsford Borough Boundaries' by the map below. The Centennary Circle has little relation to these boundaries and only touch at two points in the south between Hylands Park and Galleywood. The modern boundaries of Chelmsford Borough extend way beyond the Centenary Circle beyond Great Leighs to the north and South Wood Ferrers and Downham to the south. From the small area of about 5 square miles encompassing just the centre of the town and a population of just 10,000 in 1888, Chelmsford Borough has expanded to a population of 160,000 over an area of 133 sq. miles: View Chelmsford Borough today .


Hover cursor over links to the right of the map to display each walk section.
Click on a link for detailed map and walk directions and photographs.

Centenary Circle Aerial Tour


Walk Description

Centenary Circle

As a circular walk, the Centenary Circle can be started anywhere but in this instance the route is traced from the southern tip of the circuit in Galleywood where there is ample free parking as well as regular buses between Chelmsford centre and Wickford. The route starts out west along a long farm access track before joining the route of Galley Brook, a tributary of Sandon Brook which flows into the Chelmer. Passing the farm at Great Mascalls, this largely rural field-side route then arrives at Great Baddow with some quiet road walking before arriving at the Green in Sandon flanked by the Crown Inn, and the historic St Andrews whose nave was built near the time of the Domesday Book (1086).

From Sandon, there is a short section of walking along a quiet lane before joining the Chelmer River path through Cuton Lock, and then onto Springfield, where the bus stops at Sainsbury's provide ready access back to Chelmsford.

The route continues over the A138 with nearly a mile of reasonably pleasant residential road walking through Beaulieu Park before enjoying more rural scenery, including a detour around the splendid New Hall School (originally a convent). A long wide bridleway heading west towards Broomfield provides a woody contrast and shade from the earlier field edge walking.

The next section to the picturesque village of Writtle is along or through fields of flat Essex countryside under wide, open skies, until reaching an ancient bridleway called Lawford Lane, which in 1292 was known as 'the King's Highway', forming part of the original route to London.

Heading south, the route passes under the A414 Ongar Road and follows the perimeter woodlands of Hylands Park. Exiting onto the north-south section of the London Road into Chelmsford, there is 2/3rds mile of noisy, but safe, road-verge walking before crossing over to a quiet lane west. This track takes you over the River Wid and then on a long 220 feet per mile ascent back to Galleywood Common past the Horse and Groom, and Galleywood Heritage Centre.


How to Use this Section


Key to icons used on the Essex Walks OS, Bing & Google maps :

  • parking Parking
  • Scenic view Scenic view
  • Panoramic view 360° Panorama
  • Food available Food
  • Rail station Railway Station
  • Bus stop Bus stop
  • Pub Pub
  • WC Toilets
  • Info Information
  • 1 Direction No. 1
  • 2 Direction No. 2
  • 3 Direction No. 3  etc etc

The full list of Essex Walks on this website is available under the main menu 'Short Walks' and 'Long Walks' links. 'Short' walks are between 3 and 19 miles long and are usually circular. 'Long' walks are 20 or more miles long. These include Long Distance Footpaths, such as the Centenary Circle, which have been divided into sections that take no more than a day, starting/stopping at convenient public transport links. Click on any one of them to get more details.

For each walk you will find:

The route map is interactive: you will see various icons along the route. The numbered ones tie back to the cross-referenced photos and show important points along the routes. The photos come up as a thumb-nail with a brief description, for more detail click on the thumb-nail and the picture will expand so you can see it more clearly. Click the back button to return to the route.

Other icons are explained in the key.

Once you have decided which route you want to walk, you can download and print off a pdf of the directions and photos to take with you.


Printing Maps

You can also print off a copy of the route map. The description page of each walk has an Adobe PDF document with a screenshot of the route on an Ordnance Survey map. Click on the link marked pdf Download Map PDF to view and print off a copy. However, these maps are fixed in scale and size - so you might want to use the interactive map, where you can zoom in on different parts of the route to get more detail and print these off separately. The Bing map for each walk will display the route on an 1:25K scale which has the best detail for walking.

If you are printing the screen direct from your browser, we would suggest using the Firefox Firefox browser for the most reliable results. When printing from your browser, you may want to optimise the map before printing. Drag the map so that the route appears on the top left of your screen. Go to Print Preview: you may need to toggle between portrait and landscape, and you may wish to alter the % print size. Due to the layered nature of OpenLayers graphical rendering, sometimes the map will not display in Print Preview. This can sometimes be remedied by playing with size / orientation settings in Print Preview. Allow time for all the map tiles to load before trying to print. Early versions of Google Chrome and Safari for Windows fail to produce consistent results in rendering the full screen maps.

Alternatively, for Windows 7 and Vista users, you can capture the screen or a selection of it with the " Snipping Tool " and print it out with Paint or other graphic program such as Picture Viewer or Irfanview . To use the Snipping Tool, first get the walk route displayed on the full screen OS Map, then go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool and drag the cursor around the area you want to capture. The captured map image can then be saved as a .PNG, .JPG or .GIF file for printing off.

Fold up the map, directions and photos and put them in your pocket, and go off and enjoy your walk, unencumbered!