cookie Like most websites, Essex Walks uses cookies.
 By browsing this site you agree to our use of cookies.
  Click to find out more


Essex Walks: Great Sampford

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

Description & Map

Title: Great Sampford
Distance: 5½ miles
Time taken: 2 hours
Location: 7 miles south east of Saffron Walden, CB10 2RL
OS Explorer Map: 195
Grid Ref.: TL 643 354
Parking: [Limited] Roadside parking in Finchingfield Road (one car only)
Bus: Great Sampford has no regular bus service
Train: No train service
Refreshment: The Red Lion Inn, Great Sampford, 01799 586010
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 1/3 Easiness: 2/3 Amenity: 3/3 Refreshments: 2/3

[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 Great Sampford Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen os map Great Sampford Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Great Sampford Map (Google)
Bing map Great Sampford Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Great Sampford Weather

Walk Description

Tucked away in the folds of the hills of North Essex is the sleepy village of Great Sampford. The countryside around here is truly lovely, with gently rolling hills giving marvellous views across the valleys, and plenty of pretty thatched cottages sprinkled around. There is water everywhere on this walk - streams and rivers, ponds and moats - and bridges galore! Unfortunately, in one or two places the walk crosses a shallow ditch where there isn't any bridge, and although the route is passable, it's a bit of a scramble.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. Great Sampford is a picturesque, historic village with narrow roads. Parking is difficult but a single car should be able to find a place without too much trouble. From wherever you park, locate the church and go into the churchyard (1) using the gate on the right, by a long, low thatched cottage. Make your way west, past the tiny garden of remembrance, and leave the churchyard via a gate on your right (2), following Turpin's Trail. Continue west over a stile into a field which slopes down to the River Pant.
B. At the bottom of the slope there is another stile (3), cross this and head towards the bridge over the river. Bear right towards the next bridge, then turn right to follow the field edge to a third bridge.
C. After the third bridge the footpath bears right (4) to sweep northwards through the field, curving left just before the river bank and then heading roughly north west towards a solitary tree (5). Cross the footbridge under the tree and turn left to walk up the field edge.
D. After 150 yards or so, the hedge line bends to the right for about 10 yards before returning to its former direction. At this point the footpath leaves the field edge and heads west cutting off the south west corner of the field (6). This section of path is unmarked, and it is clear from the boot marks that many walkers skirt around the field edge rather than walk straight across.
E. Continue up the hill on the right of the hedge towards Goddards Farm. Go behind the grey barn, past the moat, to the farm track. Turn right, heading north east (7). The views from here are lovely - the church you can see in the distance is St Andrews Church, Hempstead.
F. Follow the farm track as it meanders down towards the B1053. As you near the road, cross a farm bridge then walk to the roadside to the right of the hedge.
G. Just to the right of Cherry Garden (aka Long Thatch) Cottage opposite, take the driveway heading uphill (8). After almost quarter of a mile the driveway bears right; continue between the blue fences (9) until you are at the gate to Howses. You will see the moat on your left and a pond on the right. Cross the stile on your right and go through the paddock, with a pond and hedge to your left. At the facing hedge cross the stile and bridge.
H. Turn left along the crest of the hill (10). After about 200 yards you will come to a lane; turn right here, walking south east, past Free Roberts to Howe Lane. Turn left up Howe Lane for about 200 yards to Byatts Farm and turn right here along the farm track (11).
I. As you pass the end of the farm buildings turn left then right to walk south east along a grassy track. At the south east corner of the field cross the ditch then continue south east, now with the ditch on your left (12). At the bottom of this field, cross back through the hedge and continue south east.
J. After about 100 yards the hedge stops at a small footbridge. Carry straight on across a field (13), over Parsonage Farm Lane and across the next field, before following the hedge line to pass just to the left of a pretty, red, thatched cottage (14).
K. Turn right at the roadside for a couple of yards then take the footpath opposite, over a simple plank bridge. Continue south east with the hedge on your right, for about a third of a mile.
L. You will come to a large gap in the hedge (15) leading to an enclosed part of a private garden. The area is private, but according to the OS map, the legal public right of way goes through it. The line of the footpath heads north west towards the pylon. As you approach the corner it seems like there is no way out, but just at the last minute you will see a plank bridge hidden behind a large bush (16).
M. Cross the bridge - this area is not well maintained and it may be a bit of a scramble - and turn left to walk along the field edge heading south west, with a ditch on your left. After 150 yards turn left to follow the ditch to a footbridge under a tree (17). Follow the hedge line south to the road.
N. At the roadside, turn right to go west across the field and down towards the road. Go to the left of Mill House opposite and follow a footpath behind the house, then cross this field still walking downhill, towards the north west corner (18).
O. Near the corner you will see a rickety gate (19) on the far side of a shallow muddy ditch. Go through this and continue across a grassy area, with the River Pant meandering to your left. Cross over a stile in the facing hedge, then another in the next hedge. Continue towards the westerly edge of a wooded area, and walk between the trees and the river (20).
P. Continue along the riverside for about a quarter of a mile. As you pass the westerly edge of the hedge, there is a ditch to cross which is a bit of a scramble.
[Q. If this crossing is too difficult, then to get back to the parking cross in front of the hedge and follow its line northwards towards the village, go through a gap in the hedge on the left and walk across the field towards the houses, cutting off the north east corner of the field. Turn down the enclosed path between the houses leading to the junction of Homebridge and Willetts Field: turn left to walk to Fitchingfield Road and the parking.]
R. Otherwise, and for a lovely view of the historic heart of Great Sampford, continue along the riverside until you approach the road bridge, then bear right to join the carriageway by the telephone box (21). Bear right again and walk up the hill away from the bridge, to Finchingfield Road and back to the parking.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
1 Great Sampford: St Michael's Church 2 Stile 3 Stile - bridges
4 Bridge 3 5 Lone tree 6 Great Sampford
7 View from Goddards Farm 8 Driveway near Cherry Garden Cottage 9 to Howses
10 To Free Roberts 11 Byatts Farm 12 Cross ditch
13 Path through crop 14 Thatched cottage 15 Gap in hedge
16 Footbridge 17 Footbridge 18 Cross field
19 Gate 20 River Pant 21 Great Sampford


St Michael's Church, Great Sampford

Our research on Great Sampford has more or less drawn a blank. The village was listed in the Domesday book as Sanford Magna and became part of the ancient administrative unit of Freshwell Hundred. The church of St Michael dates from the 13th century.

That's it really. There are a few anecdotal sites which mention other things about Great and Little Sampford, but they are just that - anecdotal - without any references or authoritative source. The internet is saturated with incorrect or misleading information, and it's the policy of Essex Walks to not repeat the products of poor historical research.