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Essex Walks: Debden

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

Description & Map

Title: Debden
Distance: 6¾ miles
Time taken: 2½ hours
Location:3 miles south of Saffron Walden
OS Explorer Map: 195
Grid Ref.: TL 551 332
Parking: (Limited) St Mary's Church car park: please visit the church.
Bus: Stephensons Route 313 Saffron Walden - Gt.Dunmow (bus stop ¼ mile from start)
Train: Newport (Liverpool St. - Cambridge)
Refreshment: The White Horse, Newport
The Plough, Debden
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 2/3 Easiness: 2/3 Amenity: 2/3 Refreshments: 1/3

[Click image to enlarge]

OS map extract
[Click image to enlarge]

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

Walk Description  

If travelling by vehicle or bus, the walk starts at Debden Church passing through the old Debden Hall estate with lake. From Debden, the walk emerges from woodland into varied open countryside with wonderful views as you approach Newport. Rail travellers can start the walk in Newport. Crossing the bridge at Newport Station, the walk takes you over a small ford to open fields and a farmland track back to more woodland, meadows and horse paddocks. Although there are some gradients, this is a relatively easy walk with good surfaces in dry weather.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. The Church car park (P) is accessed via Church Lane, a turning off the High Street adjacent to Debden's C of E Primary School. The 13th century church is usually open and certainly worth visiting. From the church, go north east from the graveyard for about 150 yards until you pass a house on your right and a track leading to a bridge on the left (1).
For walkers arriving by train, start the walk at point (6) in #F.
B. Cross the bridge and follow the track south west up to the wood (2).
C. Follow the track through the woods until you reach the gated exit. Immediately upon leaving the wood, turn right onto a byway (3). Carry on along the track for about a third of a mile until you reach Waldegraves Farm.
E. Stay on the farm track past Waldegraves Cottages until you reach the corner of a road (4). Keep straight on (west) for 100 yards of road walking and where the road bends to the left, take the track on the right.
F. Enjoy the views as the byway descends towards Newport (5). After passing a quarry, you reach Newport Station (6). Cross the bridge over the railway and walk to the High Street along Station Road. Immediately opposite is Frambury Lane (7).
G. Walk up Frambury Lane and turn right at the T junction. After 60 yards, take the tarmac lane between houses on the left (8).
H. At the end of the lane, still heading west, is a narrow enclosed footpath (9) . After about a fifth of a mile, the path turns right as it meets a banked hedge bordering a field. (If the footpath is overgrown, the field edge also provides a way through). The footpath emerges onto a gravel clearing alongside the B1038. Immediately opposite the clearing is the continuing footpath north which takes you to a ford (10). Cross over it and head north.
I. As you head north, you pass through a small wooded area and then onto a more established track past the WRP Timber Moulding building where 60 yards further the track curves around to the right (11). This byway is Bury Water Lane which leads eastwards towards the north part of Newport.
J. After about one third of a mile, Bury Water Lane becomes a tarmac-surface road, which joins School Lane, and continues east (12) past the Grammar School to the T junction with the main road which runs north-south through Newport.
K. Immediately opposite, across the road, is a track. Follow this track down to pass under the brick railway bridge to a row of houses where you should turn right (13). Keep walking south along the pretty row of houses, staying east of the railway, and look for the footpath squeezed between the railway arches and the end house called "Brookside" (14). After you pass the house, take the concrete pathway east.
L. At the Water Treatment Plant, the track turns into a grassy field-edge footpath. After nearly half a mile, the footpath forks. Take the right fork , keeping the wooded area to your left (15).
M. After 250 yards you pass through a small wood (16) and then emerge on the other side into scrubby meadow land heading east. On your right the hedgeline conceals a stream (Debden Water). Keep going for about a quarter of a mile. You will need to get to the other side of the stream/ditch at some point. There is a north route on the Harcamlow Way but this was overgrown and obstructed when we last visited so we took the well worn path over the stream and turned left with a large wood on the hillside to our right (17). With the stream on your left, walk along the meadow for another quarter of a mile until you reach the point where footpaths merge at a crossing over the stream/ditch.
N. With the fence on your left follow the footpath round and cross over a stile into a horse paddock (18). Follow the path on the left edge of the paddock and at the end of the field turn towards the house and barn at the eastmost corner of the field (Midsummer House).
O. Cross over a pair of stiles by the barn (19) and walk south east past Midsummer House, cross over another stile, and immediately turn hard left, away from the road, and walk up the tree-lined track towards Brickhouse Farm. Just before the farm, the footpath turns right, skirting around the property. As you leave the trees on your left, the footpath joins a farm track which heads north east for 280 yards (20).
P. This tracks joins a bridleway running downhill to the right (21).
Q. Take this gravel track down (south east) to the main road and cross over by Newport Lodge (22).
R. Pass through the wooded area and follow the wide grassy track southwards for another quarter of a mile. A tree-lined track gives way to a fenced track between fields, where you will see Debden Church in the distance on the left (23).
S. After 300 yards you will see the bridge and footpath from Point (1). Return to the church via the footpath on the left.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
P Parking 1 Bridge 2 Cabbage Wood
3 Debden 4 Debden 5 Debden

6: Rail

7 Debden 8 Debden
9 Debden 10Debden 11Newport
12Newport 13Newport 14Newport
15Newport 16Debden 17Debden
18Debden 19Debden 20Debden
21Debden 22Debden 23Debden



St Mary's Church, Debden
St Mary's Church, Debden

St Mary's Church, Debden

The church was built around 1220 in the Norman cathedral form with chancel, nave, two aisles and a tower in the centre. The circular pillars of the nave date from this time. Originally there was a central steeple with 5 bells, but this fell in 1698, destroying the chancel. The subsequent steeple rebuild was evidently poor, as it collapsed again in 1717 and remained derelict for decades.

The owner of the Debden Hall estate, Richard Chiswell MP commissioned the rebuild of the chancel in 1793 when the west belfry, spire and parapets of the nave and aisles were added, as well as an octagonal east chapel in white brick. He shot himself in 1797 after losing his fortune on failed investments in the West Indies but his legacy lives on. Grade I listed.



Debden is a nice little village with a population of 850, clustered around the school, the village hall and community shop, the pond and the pub. It gave its name to the RAF Station about a mile north of the village, a fighter base opened in 1937, and was responsible for 70 German aircraft destroyed, 30 probables and 41 damaged during the Battle of Britain, as waves of Luftwaffe bombers attempted to destroy London. The Carver Barracks near the airfield is now the home of the British Army Bomb Disposal.

Villagers were shocked when in June 2014 their Village Shop was ram-raided, leaving a massive hole in the wall. This remarkable enterprise was opened in 1982; the first ever community shop in Essex. The shop is run for the benefit of the community, not just as a shop, but as a meeting place, a lost-property office and source of local information. Most of the staff are volunteers. Showing a touch of the Blitz Spirit, the undaunted locals will be re-opening the Village Shop on 1st September 2014. Please give it your support.



Newport was new in the 10th century when it was a thriving market, and the name of "port" meant a market under the control of the King. As a successful market town, inhabitants from neighbouring villages such as Wicken Bonhunt swelled its population, but by 1300, Newport itself had declined and its market ceased, overtaken by the importance of Chipping Walden 3 miles north, now known as Saffron Walden.

There was a significant industry in leather-working in the town in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and in wool-combing in the later seventeenth century. Just to the north of Newport lay the great estate of Shortgrove Hall, noted for its 'Capability' Brown landscaped gardens. This provided alternative employment for a community primarily dependent on agriculture.

Newport Tollgate
Newport Tolls

In 1744 the Turnpike Trust upgraded and widened the main road which they paid for by charging a toll. The resulting improvement in communications and increase in traffic led to an upturn in Newport's fortunes, which was given a further boost in 1845 with the building of a station for the London to Cambridge railway