Wickham Bishops Circular

An easy stroll in the countryside near Wickham Bishops, departing close to the redundant St Peter's church, passing beneath the last wooden railway viaduct in the country and then along the meandering banks of the River Blackwater. The return passes through woodland and has some excellent views across the Essex countryside. This is an all-seasons walk but is particularly good in spring and autumn.

Checked and updated May 2022

Technical sheet

A Wickham Bishops walk posted on 24/09/19 by Ralph's walker. Last update : 24/05/22
  • Walking
    Activity: Walking
  • ↔
    Distance: 9.76 km
  • ◔
    Calculated time: 3h10 
  • ▲
    Difficulty: Easy

  • ∞
    Return to departure point: Yes
  • ↗
    Vertical gain: + 118 m
  • ↘
    Vertical drop: - 128 m

  • ▲
    Highest point: 71 m
  • ▼
    Lowest point: 0 m
  • ⚐
    District: Wickham Bishops 
  • ⚑
    Start/End: N 51.770928° / E 0.647386°

  • …
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St Peter's Church, Wickham Bishops
Blue Mills Bridge


There is roadside parking for two cars next to the departure point so please park considerately and do not block the gate.

(S/E) Walk down the marked bridleway from the road, passing to the side of the green gate. Cross the old railway bridge, ignoring the bridleway on the left, continuing ahead towards St. Peter's church. After visiting the church retrace your steps then bear left onto a wide grassy path with power lines running alongside. After 400 yards, go through the gap on the left hand side of a gate. Keeping left go down to a field gate and marked footpath. The path goes between a fence on the left and hedge on the right, parallel to the road (do not cross the stile into the field). On reaching the river and bridge the path turns right, up steps, to the road. Carefully cross the road, cross the bridge and immediately turn right at a public footpath sign going through a gate to Mill Cottage. Follow the tarmac track and on reaching the cottage's gate take a marked footpath on the left between two hedges.

(1) The path now continues alongside the river, going underneath the trestle viaduct (see "Things to Do"). Enter Benton Hall golf course through a newly repaired gate. The footpath keeps close to the river, following red and black marker posts, riverbank willows and the occasional waymark. On reaching a gravel track and a bridge on the left, continue straight ahead. After a few yards, the main path veers off to the right but keep straight ahead on a narrower gravel track which stays close to the river. At the 11th tee, at a junction of waymarked paths and another metal bridge, keep straight ahead to cross over a small footbridge of wooden planks over a ditch.

(2) Turn right at a marker post to walk past the 6th tee, on a gravel track, climbing gently uphill with a low fence on the left and trees on the right. At the top of the hill, where the track turns left, continue straight ahead through a gap in the hedge to follow a footpath with tall hedges on both sides. After 250 yards, leave this enclosed path through the swing gate, following the waymarking, After crossing a footbridge the fenced path climbs gently, eventually reaching a field gate. Go through the swing gate and follow the marked path, which eventually joins Mope Lane. Turn right to walk along this quiet lane, passing some attractive properties.

(3) A few yards after passing the imposing gates of 'The Springs' on the left, turn right at a fingerpost to walk down Sparkey Lane. At the end of the lane, keep straight ahead at a marker post to enter Sparkey Wood. This is private woodland so please keep to the obvious track, following it gently downhill, ignoring a track off to the right at a marker post. The path leaves the wood over a footbridge and swing gate where a grassy path goes ahead between a deep ditch and hedge on the right and fenced paddocks on the left.

(4) The path reaches a metal swing gate at the paddocks' entrance. Go through this gate, cross the track, go through a wooden swing gate opposite and up a short incline between hedges. Follow the path gently uphill between a hedge and fenced paddocks. The path emerges on Station Road via a flight of steps with handrails.

Turn left to walk gently uphill. Where Wickham Hall Lane joins from the right, continue on Station Road. Ignore Mope Lane straight ahead and turn right into Church Road, soon passing St. Bartholomew's Church (*see useful information*). Continue along Church Lane until, shortly after passing Church Cottages, turn right into Church Green.

(5) Opposite 21 Church Green's driveway take footpath 12, passing between fences and hedges. The official footpath goes left of the hedge at a concrete fingerpost, between the hedge and a fence, although it is easier to walk along the track to Wynmor Farm, and then passing to the left of its gate. The path S bends left and right before emerging at a narrow lane, Grange Road. Turn right along with the road passing houses and bungalows. Soon after 2 Grange Road take the first of two footpaths on the left, through a galvanised metal gate. Follow this path for some distance.

Where it meets a large field and the hedge leaves to the right, the path goes straight ahead (it is usually reinstated) to a marker post and gap in the opposite hedge. The path dog-legs a little and then follows the perimeter of Likely Wood on the right. It eventually goes through a dilapidated gate into a large field where it turns right, then bears left soon after at a marker post to head gently downhill on a wide grassy track towards two large barns and a road.

(6) Just before reaching Langford Road, opposite Reigate Barn, turn left to follow the field boundary to a fingerpost and telegraph pole that can be seen about hundred yards ahead. At the post, cross the road with care to a bridleway next to The Reigate Bungalow. Follow the bridleway gently downhill along the field boundary. Go straight ahead at the bottom of the field where a grassy track joins from the right, go up a slight incline and immediately turn right along the raised bank which is part of the Blackwater Rail Trail.

(7) After 500 yards, go under a high bridge and cross over a track to Wickham Hall. (The section of the path just after the bridge and track can become very muddy and often forms a small 'pond' in very wet weather. If this is the case, retrace your steps to the track, turn right and right again to follow an alternative path along the field edge with a low wire fence - this re-joins the main path a little further along). After half a mile the path swings to the left, rising slightly to emerge onto a field. At the fingerpost, with St. Peter's Church on the left, climb up the low bank to the track, turn right and walk back to the departure point. (S/E)


  1. S/E : km 0 - alt. 21 m - Parking
  2. 1 : km 0.97 - alt. 7 m - Trestle Bridge
  3. 2 : km 2.6 - alt. 7 m - Paths Junction
  4. 3 : km 3.57 - alt. 55 m - Sparkey Lane
  5. 4 : km 4.54 - alt. 10 m - Paddock Entrance
  6. 5 : km 5.79 - alt. 70 m - Footpath 12
  7. 6 : km 7.73 - alt. 22 m - Reigate Barn
  8. 7 : km 8.74 - alt. 19 m - Track and Bridge to Wickham Hall
  9. S/E : km 9.76 - alt. 19 m - Parking

Useful Information

The parking facilities available on this walk are not suitable for large walking groups or those arriving
in more than one car. Parking cannot be guaranteed (although I have very rarely had a problem).

There is alternative parking at St. Bartholomew's Church in Church Lane (TL 83702 12103): if you use the church car park, please leave a donation in the jar at the car park entrance or the box inside the church. The directions would then begin just before (5).

Always stay careful and alert while following a route. Visorando and the author of this walk cannot be held responsible in the event of an accident during this route.

During the walk or to do/see around

Wickham Bishops timber trestle railway viaduct

The last surviving timber trestle railway bridge in England. It comprises two adjoining viaducts, one crossing the River Blackwater, the second the Wickham Mill leat. The structures were part of the Braintree to Maldon branch line, built to carry freight and passengers inland from the port at Maldon. The line was operational between 1848 and 1966 although it closed to passenger traffic in 1964. Although there were extensive repairs in the 1990's, many timbers are suffering from rot and decay caused by damp, lack of maintenance and heavy tree growth across, and through, much of the monument. (Historic England)

Reviews and comments

4.5 / 5
Based on 7 reviews

Clarity of route description
4.9 / 5
Clarity of route map
4.1 / 5
Walk interest
4.6 / 5
le Thu 26 Aug 2021 12:46:12 EDT

I'm glad you enjoyed it - thanks for the review.

le Wed 25 Aug 2021 09:58:36 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 23/08/21
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Having enjoyed Ralph's 'Three Pubs Circular' walk, I was keen to try this one too. I had walked the beautiful Blackwater Rail Trail once before, but had been reluctant to make it a circular route using Wickham Bishops' patchy footpath network. However this lovely walk has been a revelation. We will definitely do it again in the spring to enjoy the bluebells in and around Sparkey wood. Thank you very much.

le Mon 12 Apr 2021 04:41:37 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 11/04/21
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

A varied range of views - lots of daffodils across the river as it runs by the golf course - and varied terrain (not arduous). A hidden gem just off the A12

le Mon 29 Mar 2021 10:59:27 EDT

Dear Stan the Man,

Thank you for your comments but I wonder if you have reviewed the correct walk?

You say that you wandered off the track five times and in so doing walked five miles instead of three: this is strange as the published length of the walk is a little over six miles.

I also wonder how you know that you wandered off the track as none of the public footpaths or bridleways used on this walk are shown on Google's mapping. Might I respectfully suggest that you use an Ordnance Survey map in future.

Best regards,

Ralphs Walker

le Mon 29 Mar 2021 05:02:44 EDT

Overall rating: 3.3 / 5

Date of walk: 28/03/21
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★☆☆☆☆ Very disappointing
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

I wandered off the track 5 times. Instead of a 3 mile walk it turned out i'd walked 5 miles.

Very difficult to follow the path, even when using google maps on my phone.

le Mon 27 Jul 2020 17:10:30 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 19/07/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Amazing walk with such clear instructions. Took us a little longer because the views were too beautiful to just walk past. Came across very few people and the route was slightly overgrown in parts but otherwise an absolute pleasure. Highly recommend.

le Mon 18 May 2020 09:02:31 EDT

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 15/05/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

A very pleasant and varied walk. Takes in many aspects including riverside, open field, village and woodland. Be careful on the golf course to start. The directions ask you to head to the 11th tee which is a good 10 minute walk towards the far end of the course - follow the river and head in a straight line with no deviation until you reach the 11th tee.

le Mon 18 May 2020 03:36:25 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 16/05/20
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

An excellent walk with crystal clear descriptions.

le Mon 11 Nov 2019 03:05:36 EST

Overall rating: 4 / 5

Date of walk: 10/11/19
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★☆☆ Average

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