Three Pubs Circular

A circular walk from Purleigh that passes close to three excellent pubs using footpaths, bridleways, byways and short sections of country lanes. It joins St Peter's Way here and there, follows a disused railway track and goes through vineyards before meeting a WW1 airfield. A walk for all seasons, although sections can be muddy after rain.

Please see the Useful Information section for important information regarding the aerodrome.

Reviewed & updated 26/5/21

Technical sheet
No. 2673408
A Purleigh walk posted on 18/10/19 by Ralph's walker. Update : 22/09/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h25[?]
Distance Distance : 14.51km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 82m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 75m
Highest point Highest point : 60m
Lowest point Lowest point : 10m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Purleigh
Starting point Starting point : N 51.687134° / E 0.658942°
Download : PDF / Print -
Delightful path on the disused railway near Cold Norton New Hall Vineyard near Purleigh


The suggested parking is on an access road to a BT building. This is used at times, so please park considerately.

(D/A) Walk along the access road to the gates then take the footpath on the left of the BT building. Enter the playing field and immediately turn left over the footbridge. Head up the hill, keeping close to the hedge on the left. At the top of the field, cross the stile and keep left on Rigbys Path. The path follows garden fences for a short distance. When it enters the churchyard keep straight ahead on a barely discernible path, with the fence of The Old Rectory on the left. On meeting a gravelled footpath, turn right, walking between yew bushes to a double metal gate.

Go through the gate to leave the churchyard. Turn sharp left following the paving slabs at the rear of The Bell pub to reach a narrow road at a fingerpost with The Old Gatehouse opposite. Turn right, heading along The Street towards a private road. This is St Peter's Way. Continue along this road, going through the gate adjacent to Purleigh Hall Barn. Where the track curves right, heading towards Purleigh Hall, the path goes straight ahead to a stile.

Cross the stile and pass a pair of field gates on the left that are marked 'No Footpath'. Continue ahead until, just before reaching a stile in the hedge, turn 120° left to follow an indistinct path down to a stile with a St Peter's Way marker. Cross the stile and head for a footbridge and stile on the opposite side of the field beside a large tree. Cross these and, ignoring a path 45° left, keep ahead in the same general direction, aiming for a gap in the hedge on the opposite side of the field - the path is generally well reinstated. After going under the power line the footbridge in the hedge ahead should now be visible.

(1) Cross the footbridge, climb the steps to cross the track-bed of the disused Maldon to Woodham Ferrers railway line, descend the steps on the other side and continue straight ahead on a cross-field path to a wooden swing gate. Go through the gate and bear half right to another gate at the end of a garden fence. Leave the field through this gate and turn right on Roundbush Road. After a few yards, where the road turns sharp left by farm buildings, take the clearly marked byway on the right.

(2) Just after the byway enters a wooded area the track splits three ways - here keep to the centre track between a hedge on the left and three trees on the right. There is a marker post here but it is often obscured by vegetation. After some way the track becomes better surfaced and, shortly thereafter, where it dog-legs left and right, take a footpath on the left through a swing gate into a field. Cross the field diagonally leftwards and go through the gate at the top left hand corner of the field into a narrow footpath between fence and hedge.

After a few yards, ignore a footpath on the right over a makeshift footbridge, continuing ahead to a gate and a path ahead over a raised section of plastic boardwalk. At the end of this, turn left to follow a path between fences with a derelict barn on the left. When the path emerges at a track, turn right; it soon becomes Crown Road which meets Fambridge Road with the Cold Norton village sign opposite. Cross the road.

To visit The Norton pub, cross St Stephens Road and walk downhill on Fambridge Road for 200 yards.

(3) Walk down St Stephens Road, passing the primary school. At the bottom of the hill, ignore a footpath on the right beside an Essex and Suffolk water compound, following the road left and crossing an old railway bridge where there are two entrances to a bridleway on the right. Take either of these, ignoring a footpath that goes ahead to join a field edge, turning half right on to the bridleway. Follow this for a little over half a mile to Honey Pot Lane.

(4) Drop down, cross the lane and re-join the marked bridleway on the left side of a dismantled bridge. Various tracks from the Three Rivers golf course cross and join the bridleway here, so beware of golf buggies. Ignore all these paths, keeping ahead on the bridleway. Just after going under an old railway bridge, at a sign for Stow Maries Nature Reserve, a path joins from the left down a raised earth bank - this was the site of the Stow Maries Halt platform. At a second sign for the nature reserve, at a waymarked post, keep ahead on the disused railway line bridleway.

(5)To visit The Prince Of Wales pub take a marked footpath on the right, which descends steps to a footbridge and field, following it alongside Poorhouse Wood to a road. Cross the road, turn right and walk along Woodham Road for a little over 200 yards.

Continue along the railway track bridleway. At the end of the path drop down to the right passing beside a gate to meet Woodham Road. Cross the road going half left to enter a bridleway beside a concrete block and GLE field gates. Follow it gently uphill until, after 1/3 mile, it eventually curves to the right and enters a vineyard. Go straight ahead uphill between vines and hedge.

(6) At a marker post for a four-way crossing of paths and horse barrier, keep forward towards the wood ahead, leaving the last of the vines on the right. Continue on the bridleway just inside the edge of Hawe's Wood, still going slightly uphill. At the top of the rise, follow the waymark sharp left, then shortly afterwards sharp right, Where the bridleway meets a tarmac lane from the left, go ahead on the lane.

(7) Where the lane turns right, follow it, passing a sign for Flambirds Private Road, going to the left of the gates if locked. Here there are yellow signs warning that this is a working airfield. Go through the gate at the end of the concrete track, crossing in front of the entrance to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome to take the footpath that is virtually opposite, walking alongside the airfield fence.

(8) After 200 yards, where there is a defunct stile in the fence, bear half left to follow a usually fairly distinct path that snakes its way towards a gate in the fence ahead. Go through the gate and at this junction of paths turn sharp left to follow the field edge and fence. At the corner of the field, go through the hedge and cross the footbridge, keeping ahead on another field edge path. Cross a second footbridge and again keep ahead along a field edge path. Although the term 'path' is used here, there is no real sign that this is a path - it's just the edge of the fields. Cross a third footbridge, cross the concrete track, and again keep ahead along the side of the field. Go into the next field, crossing the ditch between ash and oak, once again keeping straight ahead.

(9) At the end of this field, cross a fourth footbridge and follow the waymark through scrubland with a reservoir bank on the right. The path meets a wider grassy track at a large oak, go forward with the hedge and ditch on the left. Pass through a gap in the hedge at the end of the field where, on the right, there is an attractive pond. There is no waymarking here - keep close to the hedge on the left through this private garden. On reaching a gate and Hackmans Lane, leave the garden to the left of the gate, cross the lane and take the fingerpost marked path opposite - St Peter's Way. Take the path directly ahead, between abandoned trucks on the left and hedge on the right, passing underneath telephone lines.

Follow the path along the field edge with a hedge on the right. Where the hedge ends, continue in the same direction to cross the field aiming for buildings and a (usually just visible) marker post. At the post (or the hedge if it has fallen down completely) do not go into the next field but turn right along the edge of the field, swinging left to meet Birchwood Road.

Turn right on the road and after a few yards, turn left, down Lodge Lane. Shortly after the entrance to Scotts Farm ignore footpaths left and right, continuing on the lane which begins to descend to the village. At the 30 MPH signs, immediately before the first building, turn right at the fingerpost for St Peter's Way, along another byway. The path doglegs right and left then curves left and begins to climb.

(10) Just before some black farm buildings on the left, look out for a partially obscured adjacent stile. The ground here can be very muddy at almost any time of year. Cross this into a horse paddock, heading diagonally right to a stile in the paddock corner. Cross the stile, going straight ahead to follow St Peter's Way ignoring paths on the left (marked) and unmarked (right). Disregard any side paths, keeping ahead on the wider grassy path. It enters a wooded area and emerges on to Chelmsford Road - the B1010.

(11) Cross the road entering into New Hall Vineyard over the footbridge opposite. The path originally went through the vines but now turns right, following waymarks at the edge of the field with the road on the right. These vines are over 50 years old and still produce fine wines. At the last row of vines, with a concrete access road ahead, turn right up a low bank and carefully cross the B1010.

(12) Take the unmarked and undefined path directly ahead between vines, heading towards a large tree at the top of the rise (being a footpath, the width between these rows of vines is slightly wider than between adjacent rows). On meeting a hedge from the right, continue ahead with the hedge now on your right. At the top of the field look back for some splendid views of the Blackwater estuary. Where the hedge bears left, cross into the grassy area beside a vineyard notice board, aiming for the opposite corner. Go through the hedge, down the steps and through a swing gate.

(13) Walk past the church, following the road to leave Church Hill and enter The Street. Pass The Bell and then just past it turn right at a fingerpost and post-mounted letterbox to follow familiar paving slabs to a double metal gate. Go through, follow the gravel path between the yew bushes again and just after the church's south door, turn left on the indistinct path close to the Old Rectory fence. Go along Rigbys Path, cross the stile by the seat, retracing the route downhill, turning right after the footbridge back to the start. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 32m
1 : km 1.39 - alt. 17m - Cross the disused railway line
2 : km 2.25 - alt. 17m - Three way split
3 : km 3.51 - alt. 46m - St Stephens Road
4 : km 4.99 - alt. 24m - Honey Lane
5 : km 6.14 - alt. 19m - Path to the Prince of Wales
6 : km 7.41 - alt. 44m - Four way crossing
7 : km 8.45 - alt. 58m - Flambirds Private Road
8 : km 8.93 - alt. 56m - Disused stile
9 : km 10.19 - alt. 47m - Private garden
10 : km 12.37 - alt. 38m - Partially obscured stile
11 : km 13.19 - alt. 29m - Vineyard
12 : km 13.48 - alt. 26m - Vineyard
13 : km 13.98 - alt. 45m - All Saints Church
D/A : km 14.51 - alt. 31m

Useful Information

Aerodrome - Important Information

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome has Flying Days, when Footpath 3 - running alongside it - is closed; the published diversion is not really satisfactory for this walk.

Check for Flying Days at:

There is a café which is free to enter when the aerodrome is open (check these days at the link above). Collect a 'Mess & Shop only' wristband at the shop.

The Mess Hall is open from 10am – 4pm, last orders of hot food will end at 2.30pm.

The menu can be found at:

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Grape vines

The Crouch Valley region produces 80% of the grapes grown in Essex as well as producing award winning wines and supplying quality grapes to many wineries across the UK (and soon to the Champagne region of France). With south facing slopes, low rainfall and coastal breezes, the area is protected from frost and produces some of the best vines and premium wines in England. Wine has been produced in this area for almost 1,000 years, demonstrating the fact that Crouch Valley is a near ideal place for grape growing and wine production.

St. Peter's Way

The St Peter’s Way is a 45 mile walk meandering through the countryside of Essex, from Chipping Ongar to the ancient chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell on Sea.

It was one of the first trails to be created by Fred Matthews and Harry Bitten of West Essex Ramblers, following a proposal of 1970 by the Epping Forest Holiday Fellowship.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 5/5
Number of opinions : 4
Clarity of route description : 5/5
Clarity of route map : 5/5
Walk interest : 5/5

on Mon 31 Oct 2022 14:24:49 CET

Glad you enjoyed the walk. Your comments have reminded me that I need to review it, so thanks!

on Mon 31 Oct 2022 13:53:42 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 25/10/22
Clarity of route description : Very good
Clarity of route map : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

I took this walk last week and really enjoyed it, thanks for posting it! I got a little lost at the start and the end but this was down to my own ineptitude

on Mon 08 Aug 2022 09:45:00 CEST

Glad you enjoyed the walk! Lovely weather for it at the moment..

There is information about the tea rooms in the Useful Information section:

There is a café which is free to enter when the aerodrome is open (check these days at the link above). Collect a 'Mess & Shop only' wristband at the shop.

The Mess Hall is open from 10am – 4pm, last orders of hot food will end at 2.30pm.



on Mon 08 Aug 2022 09:15:29 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 08/08/22
Clarity of route description : Very good
Clarity of route map : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Excellent walk. I stopped at the prince of wales pub.
Very simple navigation. Simple and straight forward route.
A very big thank you!

One very important thing is missing: The tea room inside Stow Maries Aerodrome. In the entrance to the Aeordrome, one may ask for 'a pass to the mess' that is a pass to the tea room. Excellent cakes, wonderful service.

Last, next week (Sunday 14/Aug/2022) some of the route is expected to be temporarily closed!

Admin walker
on Tue 03 May 2022 09:47:29 CEST

Hello Richard,

Thank you for this feedback!
By any chance do you have any suggestions to improve the description?

Kind regards

on Mon 02 May 2022 19:17:16 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 30/04/22
Clarity of route description : Very good
Clarity of route map : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

We thoroughly enjoyed the walk, lots to see and enjoy.

A pity that the fingerpost right at the end had been pulled out and it was difficult to find the way for the last km.

on Sat 03 Jul 2021 11:10:51 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 03/07/21
Clarity of route description : Very good
Clarity of route map : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A big thank you to 'Ralph's walker' for posting this hugely enjoyable route through this tranquil part of Essex. It's quite a lengthy walk (for us anyway) but is full of interest and lovely views. We actually started from Stow Maries village hall, where there's plenty of parking, and had a good lunch at the highly recommended Purleigh Bell. As it was summer, some of the field edge paths were a bit overgrown, but nothing we couldn't deal with.

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