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Essex Walks: The Rodings

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

Description & Map

Title: The Rodings
Distance: 7½ miles
Time taken: 2¾ hours
Location: 8 miles north west of Chelmsford
OS Explorer Map: 183
Grid Ref.: TL 590 133
Parking: [Limited] At St Michael's Church, Leaden Roding on the A1060, CM6 1RB (one car only)
Bus:bus Bus - Arriva 59, Harlow - Chelmsford, roughly hourly Mon- Sat, calling at White Roding and Leaden Roding (Leaden Hall)
Train: No services
Refreshment: White Roding: The Black Horse (closed Mon) and Bretts
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 1/3 Easiness: 3/3 Amenity: 2/3 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 The Rodings Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen OS map The Rodings Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map The Rodings Map (Google)
Bing map The Rodings Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather The Rodings Weather
White Roding Windmill

Walk Description  

A walk from Leaden Roding Church through fairly flat, open countryside to Abbess Roding, then over gently rolling hills to White Roding. The route back to the parking passes through farmland and along a river bank before returning to St Michael's Church. The whole walk covers about 7½ miles. Refreshments are available en route at Bretts in White Roding, which is a licensed farm shop/bistro. The terrain is fairly flat, the footpaths well established, and the surrounding countryside pleasantly undulating.

There are lovely views and some beautiful buildings en route, particularly the cottage opposite School Lane, and Lucas Farm. The village of White Roding contains some truly picturesque old cottages. The footpaths are generally clear and well used, so finding your way shouldn't be a problem, however there is a 200 yard section of footpath in the northern part of the walk past a fishing lake which can get a bit overgrown in late summer.


pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. The car park at St Michaels is tiny. One car only please, or there'll be no room for the church gardener or flower arrangers. From the parking, (P) cross the main road and walk south across the field. Head for a gap in the hedge about 10 yards after the end of the railings you can see to your left (1).
B. Cross the footbridge and turn right following the field edge with the hedge to your right.
C. Towards the end of the field there is a path bearing right into the woods (2). Follow this and cross the footbridge into the next field.
D. Follow the field edge with the woods on your left. In the far left corner of the field there is a path on the left. Take this and cross the footbridge into the woods.
E. After a short distance, just before the woods end, the path meets a bridleway. Turn right along the bridleway (3). 25 yards later, at the next intersection turn left (south).
F. Follow the field edge with the woods now on your right. Continue straight on through a hedge and later, through a narrow strip of woodland.
G. The tree line marking the field boundary moves further to the right. Head across the field (4) and then bear right to cross the footbridge (5).
H. The exit from the next field is not obvious. Look in the direction indicated by the waymarker and you will see there is a electricity pole ahead of you; head for that and go through the gap in the hedge to a farm track.
I. There is a footpath straight ahead, but the path here is not clear. Instead turn left along the farm track (Frayes Chase) to find a bridleway on the right just before Frayes farm buildings.
J. A few yards into this field the bridleway splits into a footpath going due south and the bridleway proper which goes south-west. Stay on the bridleway, walking to the left of a curving hedge (6).
K. After a while the hedge disappears, and there are two bridges ahead, a smaller one on your left and a bigger one to the right. Walk to the field edge and turn right towards the bigger bridge (7).
L. After crossing the large bridleway bridge, head to the right, across and up the field towards a line of trees where you will see another bridleway. Turn right along this (8).
M. Exit the field via the 'tree tunnel' adjacent to a cottage (9).
N. Turn right up the road, then left along School Lane.
O. Continue up School Lane to the T-junction in Abbess Roding, then turn right and look for the church. Take the footbridge to the right of the church (10).
P. Follow the footpath through some trees until you come to a small field (there may be caravans parked here). Leave this field via the opposite, north western corner.
Q. Go over a footbridge into a larger field and cross this one diagonally to the right.
R. Cross another footbridge into the next field and turn right, walking along the field edge to the field entrance.
S. Now in Anchor Lane, turn left for about 25 yards and then take the footpath to the right (11). This field contains a rise and the route may not be clear, but keep walking in a straight line; about half way across the field you will see the waymarker on the far side; head for this.
An alternative route to avoid the field crossing is to turn right on Anchor Lane for about half a mile, keeping left past Berwick Cottage until you reach the footpath again at (13).
T. At the far side of the field, turn left along the field edge until you reach a line of poplars, then turn right with the poplars on your right, to the road (12).
U. Turn right on the road (Church Lane) and continue for 1/5th mile until the lane itself turns sharply right just after Brook Farm, where you bear left onto a field track (13).
V. After 50 yards turn left at a waymarker to walk up the field with a ditch and later a hedge to your left.
W. At the top of the hill there is a gap in the hedge. Turn left here walking east towards the windmill, with another hedge to your right.
X. After about 500 yards the path veers to the left, away from the windmill. Continue on with the hedge at your right, until you approach a wall. There is a gap in the hedge on the right just before the wall: go through that and follow the wall to Church Lane.
Y. Turn right on the road, heading north past the windmill, through the village of White Roding until you come to the junction with the A1060. Cross the road and turn right.
Z. After about 250 yards you will come to Bretts. The footpath is immediately past this, along a small residential road.
AA. Go past Boundary House on your left, then turn left along an enclosed footpath beside a pair of black gates.
AB. Follow the path alongside a paddock, turn right at the corner of the paddock where the footpaths intersect (14), then right again at the next corner.
AC. As you approach a small sewage works, look for a footbridge on the right. Cross over this and turn left, following the path alongside a stream.
AD. 200 yards later, after passing the entrance to a fishing lake, take the footbridge on the left (15) and then turn right to continue along the other side of the stream. This path can get a bit overgrown at times.
AE. You will emerge into a field, go straight on. At the corner of the field ahead of you the footpath drops down onto a plank bridge through a hedge into the next field (16). Continue on until you come to Lucas Farm (17).
AF. Turn left along the lane for about 50 yards then turn right opposite the farmhouse, to walk along the south bank of a small stream, beside a line of trees (18).
AG. Look for a footbridge on the left, and cross to the north bank of the stream. If it's too overgrown, there is another footbridge farther on.
AH. At the corner of the field north of the stream a substantial footbridge crosses the River Roding. As you walk over this look for the waymarker at ground level at the far left corner of the bridge.
AI. Using the direction of the waymarker as a guide, cross the field diagonally to the left, heading for a red 4-barred gate.
AJ. At the red gate you will see a second identical gate (19). Cross over both.
AK. Walk east along the field edge with a hedge to your right until you come to a concrete farm track.
AL. Turn right along the farm track; (20) when you reach the outbuildings the path bears slightly left to run to the left of some trees. Follow this path to the roadside and back to the parking at St. Michael's.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
P parking 1 South over field 2 Footbridge
3 Turn right: Bridleway 4 Merks Hall 5 Footbridge
6 Bridleway 7 Right for bridge 8 West towards Coopers and B184
9Coopers Cottage 10Abbess Hall Farm 11Field entrance on Anchors Lane
12Poplars heading north 13Footpath at elbow of Church Lane 14Paddock edge going east 
[Click photo to enlarge]
15Footbridge near Marks Hall Fishery 16Plank Bridge at field boundary 17Lucas Farm
18Willows 19Pair of 4 Barred Gates 20Track south to farm and church


The Rodings

1856 Ordnance Survey map

This walk takes you through three of the 8 Roding (or Roothing - both spellings are still in use today) villages. These villages all date from the sixth century when the Saxon king Hrotha, head of the Hrodinga tribe, sailed up the Thames. He found a new home on the highly fertile soil of the Roding valley and created settlements on either side of the river. Hrotha clearly knew good soil when he saw it - the soil here is the most fertile in Essex.

For centuries this part of the country remained virtually inaccessible, and even now many of the villages are isolated from the main road network. In fact as late as the Eighteenth Century the writer Daniel Defoe described the Rodings villages as 'famous for Good Land, Good Malt, and Dirty Roads'. Because of this isolation there are no particularly significant buildings or sites in the area, but a few timber-framed manor houses, farm houses, and thatched cottages dating from Medieval times do remain.

Leaden Roding

Leaden Roding church is an ancient church and was the first in the district to be roofed with lead. Parts of the church are of Norman origin, although the belfry dates from the 15th century. Some people believe that the church is a 'witches church', with carvings on the doors and window sills designed to keep witches away.

Abbess Roding

St Edmunds Abbess Roding supposedly derives its name from the Abbess of Barking who was a patron of the parish church in the Middle Ages. However, many archives dating back as far as 1571 give its name as 'Abbots Roding', including the 1st Ordnance Survey map of 1856. The church dates largely from the 14th century, although it has even earlier origins. Additionally, there are several listed buildings in the village.

From 1612 to 1633 the rector of Abbess Roding was Thomas Thurlow, the father of John Thurlow who became the secretary to Oliver Cromwell. John Thurlow was also an associate of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General.


White Roding

White Roding has, apart from the windmill, an array of beautiful thatched cottages, some of which date from the 15th century. The windmill itself was built on 1877 on the site of an old post mill which had been there since 1609, and which was destroyed when the then miller used too much cloth on the sails during high winds. The new tower mill was also wind operated until 1926 when engines were installed. The windmill ceased operating in 1931 and has been in private ownership since then.

One of the most interesting features of White Roding is the number of outlying houses with moats - there are 10 in the village, including Lucas Farm, on the route of this walk.

The residents of White Roding clearly had a social conscience in times gone by. In 1831 the residents of White Roding submitted a petition to the House of Lords, calling for the abolition of slavery. According to the House of lords Journal: "Upon reading the Petition of the Inhabitants of the Parish of White Roothing, Essex, whose Names are thereunto subscribed; praying their Lordships 'no longer to defer the Adoption of such Measures as, by ameliorating the Moral Condition of the Slave, may issue in his final Emancipation, but at once to fix a Day when the Children of our Slave Colonists shall be born free; and to adopt such Measures for evangelising our Black Colonial Population, that the Name of Slave shall become as odious in the West India Islands as it is within the Walls of their Lordships House:' It is Ordered, That the said Petition do lie on the Table."