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Essex Walks: Earls Colne

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

Description & Map

Title: Earls Colne
Distance: 4½ miles
Time taken: 2 hours
Location: 3 miles south east of Halstead
OS Explorer Map: 195
Grid Ref.: TL 857 290
Parking: Earls Colne car park, off Queen Street, behind The Drum Inn, CO6 2QZ
Bus:busBus No 88 to Colchester, hourly
Train: No train service
Refreshment: Earls Colne: The Drum Inn and The Lion
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 3/3 Easiness: 2/3 Amenity: 3/3 Refreshments: 2/3

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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 Earls Colne Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen os map Earls Colne Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Earls Colne Map (Google)
Bing map Earls Colne Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Earls Colne Weather
Earls Colne en route Chalkney Longhorn Chalkney Wood

Walk Description

This is a pleasant walk with varied terrain and some beautiful views. The field edge walking contrasts with a stroll through ancient woodland; there is a section of riverside walk and a wander through the water meadows; and the route goes through two separate nature reserves and across the Colne Valley Golf Course. You also go past Chalkney Mill, with its prize-winning Longhorn cattle and its astonishingly noisy mill race. The walk starts and stops in the peaceful and historic village of Earls Colne, where there are several pubs and cafes for refreshments afterwards.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. From the car park (P), walk to Queens Road and turn right to the High Street, then turn left on the High Street towards St Andrew's Church (1).
B. Enter the churchyard beside the war memorial, and bear right to walk away from the church (2).
C. Turn right by the lamppost to walk down an alleyway between two walls, to Park Lane. Cross the road and turn right for 50 yards.
D. Turn left into a grassy track running downhill alongside the school (3).
E. Walk down the track and go through the metal kissing gate at the bottom, then continue ahead through a second gate. Keep to the right hand side of the field and go through another gate on the right into an area of woodland (4). This is part of the Brickfield and Long Meadow Nature Reserve.
F. A few yards into the woodland, look for a footpath on the left heading up the slope. Take this path and continue until the slope levels out, then carry straight on along a wide grassy track. At the facing hedge, turn left through a gate towards the Coggeshall Road (5).
G. Turn right at the roadside, and walk along the pavement for almost 200 yards to where the road bends to the right, then cross the road and walk along the farm track by Tilekiln Farm (6).
H. Keep going in a roughly south easterly direction along the farm track for about half a mile, keeping to the field edges. For the initial part of this section, keep the hedge on your left, then once you can see Tey Road ahead of you, bear right along the edge of a field and follow the hedge on your left to join the road beside a pylon (7).
I. You will join the road at a corner. Continue straight ahead along Tey Road, with the pylon on your right, and after about 350 yards turn right into Chalkney Wood (8).
J. Walk along the entrance track to the car park area. There are several routes into the woods from here: take the one on the left at the far end of the car park, in the north east corner (9).
K. Stay on this track as it bends left and continue until you reach a large clearing where several different routes meet (10).
L. Turn left here, and walk down the slope to a farmyard. Go straight on through the farmyard (11) and past the mill.
M. Walk ahead up the farm access road for 175 yards to a turning on the left by another pylon (12).
N. Go through the gate into a field and turn right to walk along the edge of the field with a stream on your right. After 150 yards you will come to a small plank bridge, cross this and continue in the same direction (13).
O. About 250 yards after the footbridge the field opens out to the right. Cross the end section of the field diagonally to reach the banks of the Colne (14).
P. Walk along the river bank with the Colne on your left for about 400 yards, then continue ahead through a gate into some woods then between houses to the roadside (15).
Q. Cross the A1124 and turn left for 30 yards, then turn right to walk through a kissing gate and along the Yew Tree Farm access track (16).
R. Keep walking straight ahead for 300 yards then where the track turns right into a sewage works, continue ahead over the stile and along the footpath. Follow the path round to the right 170 yards later, and walk up the hill to the old railway line. Turn left along the track bed (17).
S. Keep walking along the old railway (now a nature reserve) for about a third of a mile until you reach a wooden footbridge. After another 270 yards there is turning left towards the golf course and the Colne.
T. From here you can walk across the meadow towards a bridge over the Colne, but we went straight on to the remains of an old railway bridge, (18). then turned left and walked back along the river's edge.
U. Cross the footbridge and walk across the golf course with the lake on your left (19).
V. As you pass the lake bear very slightly left and walk along a poorly defined path keeping to the left of the mature trees and heading for a gap between two clumps of newly planted trees, and look for a path bearing off to the right near a concrete bollard (20).
W. This path takes you to a style leading into a residential road. Go up the road to the junction of Hillie Bunnies(!) and Burrows Road. Go straight across into Burrows Road, and keep going until you come to Earls Colne High Road. Turn left and walk along the pavement to Queens Road, and turn left again to return to the car park.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
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Earls Colne

St Andrews Church 
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Earls Colne is named after the river Colne on which it stands, and the Earls of Oxford, who held the manor of Earls Colne from shortly after the Norman Conquest until 1703. The Earls of Oxford were descended from Aubrey de Vere, the friend and brother-in-law of William the Conqueror. Aubrey founded a priory dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin and to St. John the Evangelist in the village: the remains of the site has been scheduled as a national monument. It was a place of worship for four hundred years, until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

The parish church of St. Andrew was rebuilt by John, the seventh Earl, in the first half of the fourteenth century. The building of the tower was begun by another John, the thirteenth Earl, and completed by John, the fifteenth, who died in 1539. In the present day High Street, the half-timbered building at number 112/114 was built in 1520 and a five pointed star, the heraldic symbol of the Earls of Oxford, can be seen about half way along the beam supporting the projecting first floor.


Chalkney Wood

Chalkney Wood is a small remnant of the forest which once covered most of England. It contains many different tree species including wild service and small leaved limes, both of which are indicators of ancient woodlands. For hundreds of years the forest has been managed to produce coppice products including poles and rods for various rural uses such as making hurdles, and coppicing is still practised there today. The woods contain a variety of wildlife including 30 species of birds, and 5 diferent species of Hawk Moth.


Chalkney Mill

Chalkney Mill

Chalkney Mill was built in the early 18th century as a fulling mill, fulling being a process in the treatment of wool. Fulling involves two different processes, scouring and milling. Originally, fulling was carried out by pounding the cloth with the fuller's feet, hands, or a club. In Roman times the process was done by slaves pounding the cloth in pools of urine, but by the medieval period fuller's earth was used as well, and water mills gradually began to replace the human labour. The second function of fulling was to thicken cloth by matting the fabric together to give strength and increase waterproofing. The cloth was then rinsed thoroughly and attached to tentering frames using tenterhooks, to set the weave to a consistent tension and allow drying and bleaching in the sun.
In the 19th century Chalkney Mill was converted for corn milling. It was last used as a mill in the 1930's and was converted into a house in the 1980's. As you walk through the farmyard on your way to the mill, look out for the prize winning Chalkney Longhorns.


Disused railway

Colne Valley and Halstead Railway

The Colne Valley and Halstead railway opened on 16th April 1860, operating initially between Chappel and Wakes Colne and Halstead. Over the next three years the line was extended until it reached Haverhill in Suffolk. It operated until 1965 although the last 4 years was freight only; passenger traffic ceased on 30th December 1961. The track was taken up in 1966.
More recently, the section of the route used by this walk has been managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve, and Braintree District Council is proposing to designate the area as a Local Nature Reserve, so securing it from any threat of development. About 8 miles north east of Earls Colne you can find one section of the railway line which is in use again. The Colne Valley Railway visitor attraction operates a range of vintage steam and diesel engines, carriages and wagons along a mile long section of track which has been lovingly restored by enthusiasts.