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Essex Walks: Shalford

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

Description & Map

Title: Shalford Church End
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time taken: 1.5 hours
Location: 4 miles North West of Braintree
OS Explorer Map: 195
Grid Ref.: TL 724 282
Parking: [Limited] Church End Village Hall, CM7 5FB (one car only)
Bus:bus First in Essex Bus 9: hourly to Braintree, from bus stop outside village hall
Train: No train services
Refreshment: Church End: Shalford Village Shop (snacks and drinks available)
Shalford: The George
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 Shalford Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen OS map Shalford Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Shalford Map (Google)
Bing map Shalford Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Shalford Weather
River Pant: Click to see HD video

Walk Description  

This is a lovely walk through countryside around the historic village of Shalford. The initial stages of the route take you over the hills with sweeping views across the Essex countryside. Later, you walk past several old farms, complete with black weatherboarded barns dating back many centuries. Something about the age of these farms, and their proximity to each other, creates a charming sense of intimacy along this latter section of the walk. St Andrews Church in Shalford is usually open during the day and is well worth a visit, and The George serves up locally brewed ale. The sections of the walk along the banks of the River Pant (usually a sparkling, meandering, gentle river) are particularly pleasant.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. Parking is available in the Church End village hall car park, by kind permission of the committee. To access the car park, turn off the B1053 by the village hall and turn left immediately past a bus shelter, almost opposite the village shop, which could use your custom!. Please park carefully as the car park is small and the hall and recreation grounds are very popular (P).
B. From the car park, turn left to walk south west along Church End for a quarter of a mile. Cross the road and fork right along a footpath starting beside the last house on the right and head westwards across the middle of a field towards the brow of the hill (1).
C. After a third of a mile, turn right at a waymarker post to walk north along a farm track (2).
D. Continue for a quarter of a mile then look for a path bearing right towards the edge of the woods (3). When we were there, the waymarker was missing, but the junction is about 200 yards before the facing hedge.
E. Walk around the field edge with Shalford Park woods on your right. As you approach the village of Shalford, take the bridleway to the main road (4). When you reach the roadside, The George is opposite.
F. Turn right along The Street for 100 yards to the driveway to St Andrews Church, on your left. There is a memorial to a downed Flying Fortress at the entrance. Walk along the driveway and go through a lychgate into the churchyard.
G. Leave St Andrews via a partially concealed path diagonally opposite the lychgate, in the north east corner of the churchyard beside a stream (5).
H. Walk along the path, with some fishing lakes on your right. Turn right after you pass the second lake to walk alongside the River Pant towards a bridge (6).
I. Cross the bridge and go past a stile into a field, initially walking across the open field then with a fence on your right. Ignore the footpath on the right and continue ahead to the facing hedge, then turn left.
J. 250 yards later turn right through a wide gap and walk eastwards with a hedge on your left until you reach a holly tree. There is a slight ridge ahead. Turn left just past the tree and walk northwards across another open field towards the brow of the hill (7).
K. After 100 yards you will reach a waymarker. Turn right here to walk alongside a scrappy hedge and shallow ditch towards Valley Farm. You can see Rotten End House on another hillside, in the distance (8).
L. When you reach Valley Farm, turn right just past the farmhouse to walk along a concrete access track towards the 7-barred gate under a Scots Pine (9).
M. Go past the gate and ahead along the road for 20 yards, then bear right into a field and walk south along the field edge with a hedge and ditch on your left, until you reach a black barn. Turn left immediately past the barn and go through a gap in the facing hedge, on the right of the gates, to the roadside (10).
N. Turn right to walk down Water Hall Lane for about 300 yards to a low road bridge over the Pant. Cross over the bridge and turn immediately left to walk along the river bank with the Pant on your left (11).
O. Continue along the riverside for a quarter of a mile, then climb over a stile to the site of Iron Bridge. Sadly, neither of the bridges there is actually iron (12).
P. Turn right to walk away from the river along a muddy track with the fence and then a hedge on your right. Go past the half-timbered Iron Bridge farmhouse (on your right) to the road.
Q. Walk along the road for a few yards then turn right into a field just before the next house (Wade's Gardens). Walk south west with the hedge on your right, then straight across the field towards Nichol's Farm, aiming for the grass path to the left of the 16th century barn and fence (13).
R. At the end of the fence, bear right across the mowed grass to a gravel drive. Turn left along the farm access lane (14).
S. Follow the lane to the end, then turn right to walk back up the hill into Church End. Turn left at the top of the hill to return to the village hall.
T. If you have enjoyed walking in the countryside around Shalford, footpath maps of the area are available from the village shop, along with coffee, soft drinks and a variety of foodstuff including Thai snacks. There is no charge for the maps although a small donation to the hall fund would be appreciated.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
P Shalford Village Hall 1 Fork right across field 2 Shalford
3 Shalford 4 Shalford 5 Shalford
6 Shalford 7 Shalford 8 Shalford
9 Shalford 10Shalford 11
12Shalford 13Shalford 14Shalford
Download PDF photo-set here pdf



Today, Shalford is a quiet, sleepy village consisting largely of post-war housing but with a fair few ancient thatched cottages sprinkled around, and a pub and church both dating from medieval times.
In the distant past, Shalford had Royal connections. In 1066 William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings and became King of England. A few months later his wife Mathild of Flanders came to England from Normandy to join her husband. She was crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey on Whitsunday 1067 and was given the barony of Shalford by her husband. Previously Queen Edith (widow of Edward the Confessor and sister of King Harold, who was killed at the Battle of Hastings) had owned lands in the village.

Dry Gulcher

[Click to enlarge] On 4 August 1944, a B-17 called Dry Gulcher took off from Ridgewell for a mission to the V2 Rocket site at Peenemunde, Germany. Thirty minutes after takeoff, the plane caught fire. While the pilot struggled to keep the plane straight and level amid the smoke and fire in the cockpit, the bailout bell sounded and the crew began to exit the aircraft. All of the crew except Norris parachuted to safety, landing in Shalford. The Flying Fortress came down on the fields behind Shalford Church. The blast damaged nearby Shalford Hall. Norris was the only one of the crew to die that day. Today he lies with his comrades at Maddingly Cemetery near Cambridge. The nephew of Ssgt Norris, the historian Dr Vernon L Williams, later created the East Anglia Air War Project in an effort to preserve the history of both the men and women of the 8th Air Force and the story of the British families who lived and worked in the small rural villages surrounding the American bases in East Anglia. There is a memorial to the incident near the entrance to St Andrew's Church. Friends and families of the airmen came to visit Shalford to join in the ceremony of laying the memorial.

St Andrews Church, Shalford

St Andrews Church, Shalford 
[Click to enlarge]

The church was originally built the 14th century and although it was extensively restored during the 19th century, there are many original features to be seen. The nave, chancel and the north and south aisles all date from the first half of the 14th century and the west tower is possibly even older. The church is usually open during the day, and it's an interesting building to visit: I particularly like all the human faces secreted around the place. The one remaining on the outside of the church porch is relatively recent, dating from the 19th century.

However there are many older, ancient face carvings sprinkled around the inside. In particular, there is a lovely grouping of four faces (three men and a woman) at the top of an altar tomb in the south wall. These are so finely carved that they look like life studies, and you feel you could recognise the individuals if you walked past them in the village. It's amazing to think that they were originally created in the late 14th century.
Church South Wall


River Pant

River Pant: Click to see HD video

The River Pant rises in the northwest of Essex near Saffron Walden, and meanders through the countryside to Shalford and then Bocking, where it becomes the Blackwater. For most of the year it is a quiet, placid stream wandering gently through the countryside. It can even disappear completely during periods of drought. However, at times of heavy rain it can quickly turn into a torrent, causing significant damage to nearby properties.

The Pant is part of the Ely Ouse Essex Water Transfer Scheme. In 1964 the Ministry of Housing and Local Government identified a potential water shortage in Essex due to massive planned expansion in the south of the county. The concern was that existing reservoirs would be inadequate for the demands of the new housing and industrial developments.

An ingenious solution was devised which entailed enabling the occasional transfer of excess water from the Ely Ouse, in Norfolk, to the headwaters of several Essex rivers. This created an increase in the flows of those rivers and allowed Essex reservoirs to be topped up, so preventing the need for new reservoirs and protecting agricultural land. The Ely Ouse River drains a catchment of some 1410 square miles upstream of Downham Market, Norfolk. Surplus water from the eastern part of this catchment, which would otherwise drain eventually into the Wash, can be transferred into a flood protection scheme Cut Off Channel where it can be raised about 2 feet. This allows the flow to be reversed, sending water back inland for about 15 miles to Feltwell.

Here the excess water is drawn off, and sent through a 100-inch wide tunnel 12.5 miles further south to Kennett (near Newmarket). From here it is pumped into a smaller, 72 inch pipeline and sent a further 9 miles south before being discharged into the River Stour at Kirtling Green, on the Cambridge/Suffolk border. 8.5 miles downstream, at the Essex border, part of this discharge is then drawn off and pumped through another pipe for a further 6.5 miles before being discharged again, this time into the River Pant. The surplus water then continues its journey through the Pant and the Blackwater before finally being pumped through yet another pipeline into Hanningfield Reservoir. The water travels over 90 miles in total, making use of existing watercourses for about two thirds of the distance.

A problem of excess and a problem of shortage, elegantly resolved through a clever and effective engineering solution. It wasn't all mini-skirts and pop music back in the 1960's, you know. Public services actually worked, back then.

Church South Wall

Iron Bridge Farm

The farmhouse, which dates from the 16th century, is named wrongly on the OS maps and in reality it is called Ewen Bridge Farm. It was extensively altered in the 19th century, and around that time the landowner used to donate 10s a year towards the upkeep of the Shalford Almshouses.

More recently, the English artist Eric Ravilious lived at the farm for a brief period before his death at the age of 39. Ravilous was famous during the 1930's: his watercolours and woodcuts were extremely popular and he produced designs for Wedgewood, artwork for London Transport, and carved the original woodcut of two gentlemen playing cricket which appeared on the front cover of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack from 1938 to 2002.
During WWII he was appointed an official War Artist and received a commission as Captain in the Royal Marines. He died in 1942, when the Air Sea Rescue mission he was accompanying failed to return to its base in Iceland.

He painted several pictures of the Iron Bridge Farmhouse and garden and the surrounding countryside, including one of the River Pant which is can be viewed at: Painting by Ravilious: River Pant, Shalford, 1941