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Essex Walks: Woodham Walter


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

Description & Map

Title: Woodham Walter
Distance: about 5½ miles
Time taken: 2 hours
Location: 3 miles west of Maldon
OS Explorer Map: 183
Grid Ref.: TL 808 068
Parking: [Limited] Opposite the Bell Pub, Woodham Walter, CM9 6RF (one car only).
Bus:bus 31A Bus - Chelmsford - Maldon
Train: No service
Refreshment: The Bell in Woodham Walter
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 1/3 Easiness: 2/3 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 Woodham Walter Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen OS map Woodham Walter Map (Ordnance Survey)
Link to full screen Google map Woodham Walter Map (Google)
Bing map Woodham Walter Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather Maldon Weather
View north, by West Bowers Farm

Walk Description  

This walk starts and finishes in the ancient rural village of Woodham Walter. Both the Pub where we suggest parking, and the Church near the end of the walk, date from the 16th century. The views across rural Essex are lovely, it feels as though the hustle and bustle of modern life is light years away. The terrain is varied, with woodland, arable fields, a nature reserve and horse paddocks along the route. The horse paddocks are all fenced off from each other, but you'll see a series of home-made access points linking the paddocks; just work your way through these. And at one point, you'll come across more radio masts than even Marconi could dream of!

Be aware that the footpaths on the OS map are out of date here and there - the footpaths have moved over the years. Follow the route we've given you and you'll be fine. Conversely, as you walk through the open access nature reserve you don't have to follow our route, you can go any way you choose. But you need to find the right exit to get back on track. The exit point exitis about three quarters of a mile southwards of the entrance.

Directions

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

A. Walk away from the pub towards Little Baddow (1) for about 600 yards then turn right into Stivvy's Road. After 200 yards take the footpath to the left.
B. Go across the field then through the gate into the next field and follow the waymarkers to the following field edge, cross the footbridge.
C. In the next field the exit footbridge is not visible from the entrance. You'll find it in the hedge opposite about half way between the entrance and the telegraph pole visible in the far right corner, to the right of a large tree (2).
D. Walk through the next field towards the five barred gate, turn right on the farm track for about 10 yards then turn left through the home-made access gate (3).
E. You're now walking through a series of half a dozen or so paddocks, linked by similar access points. Work your way between the paddocks heading directly from each entrance to the next exit point. After the last paddock, walk through a small piece of scrubland and look for a stile on your right (4).
F. Crossing this stile takes you onto a mown area adjacent to a house; it is a public right of way. Keeping close to the hedge, cross this field: the exit point is a stile about 10 yards to the left of the 5-barred gate [(5): taken from the roadside].
G. Cross over the road junction and take the bridleway on the left heading south and continue along this into Danbury Ridge Nature Reserve.
H. Continue on the bridleway into the woods; the route bears slightly to the right.
I. After about 250 yards the bridleway takes a sharp left turn; don't take this, go straight ahead along a footpath (6).
J. At a T-junction near to the crest of the hill, at a waymarker propped up in logs, turn right. 50 yards later the path diverges; take the left fork (7) : you will shortly come to a piece of heathery heathland with surprisingly lovely views across a small wooded valley.
K. Continue along this path as it slopes downhill towards a stream.
L. At the stream there are several bridges. Take the route using two wooden bridges across the stream (8), and go right then left up the slope.
M. Keep on the main path until you exit the woods and the nature reserve by Robins Wood, at the end of the "Twitty Fee" track. Cross the track taking the footpath opposite, which runs alongside a golf course.
N. Continue along this footpath until you reach the roadside.
O. Crossing the road take the footpath opposite, next to a 5-barred gate.
P. After about 50 yards the footpath divides; take the left fork going through the fence gap, onto the field edge. Follow the field edge as it runs alongside woodland (9).
Q. As you approach the end of the woods you will see a footpath emerging from the woods, turn left onto this. Continue along this path to a lane.
R. Across the lane, just past a lone oak, you will see the next footpath going through a hedge into a field (10).
S. Follow this path round the field edge. Just after the path bears to the right there is a gap in the hedge to your left; the path goes through here (11).
T. Follow this path with trees and a stream to your left until again the path bears right. Shortly after this you come to a track to the left leading to a farm. The path goes through the farmyard keeping to the left of the buildings.
U. As you exit the farmyard head down the access road to a small lane.
V. Cross the lane to the footpath opposite.
W. Walk up a track past two cottages and use the field entrance to the right of a five barred gate.
X. As you enter the field you can see a gap in the hedge at the opposite side of the field (12); go around the field edge to this point and then cross through into the next field.
Y. Keep to the field edge. After about 80 yards the tree line pushes the path to the right and then suddenly drops away; continue straight on into the field. You are now in The Wilderness! Head for an area of rough grass which forms the field boundary here.
Z. At the field boundary turn left keeping the rough grass to your left, and head along the track (13). There are very few trees in this area but look for two large bushes close together; there is a footbridge between them which takes you towards a small piece of woodland.
AB. Follow the path straight on through the woods and out the other side, then keep on the rough grass dividing two fields; head towards a telegraph pole.
AC. From here you can see St Michael's church, make for the gate at the rear of the churchyard and walk through the churchyard to the front.
AD. Turn right down the hill and back to the parking spot.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here

Photos

Download PDF photo-set here pdf
1 Woodham Walter, Essex 2 Woodham Walter, Essex 3 Woodham Walter, Essex
4 Woodham Walter, Essex 5 Woodham Walter, Essex 6 Woodham Walter, Essex
7 Woodham Walter Common, Essex 8 Woodham Walter, Essex 9 Thrift Wood, Essex
10 Woodham Walter, Essex 11 Woodham Walter, Essex 12 Woodham Walter, Essex
13 Woodham Walter, Essex - St Michaels,Woodham Walter, Essex - The Bell, Woodham Walter, Essex

History

The Bell Pub

The Bell in Woodham Walter is a traditional 16th century English village pub. By local tradition it was built in the same year as the church (1563). The small building to the east of the pub was once the village shoemaker.

The building has a rich history: for example, in 1593 Humfrey the innkeeper, appeared in court charged with keeping a disorderly house and allowing dancing on a Sunday. In the mid-eighteenth century Widow Wynn, the licensee, was reassessed for Window Tax when the number of windows was reduced from thirteen to seven. These windows remained blocked up until the 1930's when workmen discovered one of them, and the owners of the building then had all the plaster removed, revealing more windows.

The building is beautifully preserved and still has many original features including the wooden beams and open fire. The Bell welcomes walkers.

Heather

Danbury Ridge Nature Reserve

The Danbury Ridge Nature Reserve is a mosaic of pieces of woodland, common heathland, streams and bogs. This walk takes you through two areas of the reserve, firstly Woodham Walter Common, which consists of a gravel covered plateau sloping down to stream valleys on both sides, with secondary woodland containing Sessile Oak, Rowan, Wild Service and Alder Buckthorn trees. A few areas are kept open to encourage low growing plants, especially Ling Heather.

The ground flora includes rare species such as Greater Butterfly Orchid, Broadleaved Helleborine, Smooth-stalked Sedge, Lily-of-the-valley and Wood Spurge. Secondly, the walk goes through Poors Piece, which contains many Oak pollards suggesting that it was once used as wood pasture.

The Warren Golf Course

During the middle ages this area was part of a large Red Deer park with associated carp ponds and rabbit warrens. From the early seventeenth century the park became farmland. The Scots pines were planted by Mr HW Thompson, the founder of the golf course, early in the 20th century.



St Michaels

Woodham Walter Church

The church of St Michael the Archangel in Woodham Walter is one of only 6 Elizabethan Churches in England, and the only one in Essex. It is open during daylight hours for people to visit. Built in 1563, this church is believed to be the first consecrated after the Elizabethan settlement of 1559, and as such has a claim to be the first purpose-built Church of England church.

When Elizabeth I inherited the throne in 1558 the country had suffered almost 25 years of religious turmoil between Catholics and Protestants. One of Elizabeth's first priorities was to resolve this dispute. She managed to find a middle way between the opposing views by establishing a Church that was moderately reformist in doctrine, whilst also emphasising continuity with its catholic and apostolic traditions. To achieve this she passed two laws in 1559: the Act of Supremacy, which re-established the Church of England's independence from Rome, and the Act of Uniformity which set out the form the English church would now take, including establishing the Book of Common Prayer. Collectively, these Acts are known as the Elizabethan Settlement.

Although the church building dates from 1563 much of the interior, including the font and the pillars between the nave and the north aisle, dates from earlier and may have come from a previous church. There is even graffiti (saying 'William Barton' in different styles) scrawled on the pillars, which has been dated as between 1450 and 1500.