Woodham Walter Circular

This walk, close to the ancient village of Woodham Walter, offers a nature reserve, arable fields, woodland and The Wilderness. The route is along bridleways and footpaths for the most part, with a couple of short sections on country lanes. There are only two cross-field paths so it's a good winter walk but, like any Essex hike, it can be muddy after rain.

Technical sheet No. 33392732

A Woodham Walter walk posted on 02/05/23 by Ralph's walker. Last update : 24/05/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h35 ?
Distance Distance : 8.50 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 51 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 48 m
Highest point Highest point : 88 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 28 m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Woodham Walter
Starting point Starting point : N 51.72352° / E 0.611493°
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Start : Parking area in Old London Road opposite the Warren Golf Club entrance. (CM9 6RN) Grid ref. TL 804 059

(D/A) From the parking area in Old London Road, take the unmarked path South between a tree and a fence corner at the side of the road (do not be tempted to go through the green gate posts). Follow the field edge alongside the fence and trees to reach a waymarked gap in the fence; go through the gap, turn left, and continue straight ahead (South-South-East) on the wide path leading into Thrift Wood. Ignore a right-hand path after a few yards and a left-hand path a few yards after that, always keeping straight ahead on the wider track between chestnut trees.

About 600 yards after entering the wood, the path drops gently down to a stream and footbridge. Do not cross the bridge; instead bear left on a path that follows the course of a small stream. Ignore a path on the right that crosses the stream via logs and concrete pipes, continuing ahead on the slightly less clear path (keep right) heading towards the edge of the wood. When very close to the edge, the path turns sharp right, beside two or three large trees, aiming towards the corner of the wood where it meets a field .

Go straight ahead here, following the field-edge path - the Maldon Millennium Way. Ignore a path and footbridge on the right. The footpath can be rather indistinct here, especially with the full growth of summer, but it simply follows the edge of the field to a road, Tom Tit Lane, passing a pond on the right.

(1) Cross the road, bearing half left, to a new fingerpost. After crossing the footbridge, turn left to follow the stream on a field-edge path. At the corner of the field turn slightly right to take the path through a gap in the hedge, continuing ahead on another field-edge path with a line of trees on the left. The path doglegs, following the field edge, eventually going very gently uphill towards a waymark post.

Here, turn left to follow a wide grassy track (North), with horse paddocks on the left, towards a fence and farm buildings. On reaching a track and tall wooden fence bear left, following the track past converted farm buildings and a fenced parking area. Continue ahead, past Woodham Walter Lodge (ignore the footpath on the left) to reach Old London Road.

(2) Cross the road to take the signed footpath opposite then almost immediately take the field-edge permissive path on the right. You are quite within your rights to follow the footpath along the stony track, but it does go very close to houses.

(3) At the field corner, follow the waymarked path into woodland – The Wilderness – directly ahead, going downhill, then turning right to reach a footbridge. Continue on this undulating path to another footbridge, (ignore a waymarked path on the left) following Maldon Millennium Way markers. After climbing the steps, the path goes ahead, swinging right and leaving the woodland at a waymark post.

(3) Turn left (North), following the fairly obvious path along the edge of the wood. At the end of the woodland, follow the Maldon Millennium Way markers across the field heading towards a tree and marker post. then follow the field-edge alongside a ditch on the left. Ignore the waymarked path over a footbridge between trees, keeping ahead towards the next tree and marker post. At a grassy track cross to the opposite side of the ditch and continue ahead to the marker post.

(4) At this four-way junction of paths turn left (West), taking the (partially) grassy track across the field towards trees. Where the track meets a fence on the right continue ahead, going slightly downhill towards trees. Where the fence ends, ignore the wide grassy track off to the right but instead go straight ahead into the wood (The Wilderness again). Ignoring any side paths, go gently downhill to a junction of multiple waymarked paths beside a triple-trunked tree. Here continue ahead to cross the concrete footbridge. This section can be very muddy after rain. Leave the wood and follow the grassy path, rising gently uphill with allotments on the right. The path reaches Rectory Road at a barred gate.

(5) Turn left (South) on the road, passing Woodham Walter Primary School. At the now defunct Queen Victoria pub, cross the road to take Top Road until reaching Little Baddow Road.

(6) Turn right (North-West) to walk up Little Baddow Road away from the village, passing houses and bungalows. After ¼ mile, turn right (North) into Stivvy’s Road also known as Burnt House Road. Where the road curves to the right, with Gun Hill Farm's buildings left and right, take the footpath at the fingerpost on the left towards a gate in the hedge ahead, passing underneath power lines. Go through the gate and heading in the same general direction, look out for another gate on the opposite side of the field beside a tree.

Go through the gate, cross the footbridge, and continuing in more or less the same direction (320°), head towards a footbridge in the hedge on the opposite side of the field. Cross the footbridge and, again keeping in the same diagonal direction, pass through double paddock fences and head towards an intersection of paths (at time of writing there was a black water tank here).

(7) Turn 90° left (South-West) to head towards a gap in the paddock fencing. The path passes through several paddocks and includes more than a few gates and electric fencing hooks, all of which can easily be seen. It eventually meets Spring Elms Lane over a stile (at Spot Height 76). Turn right and look out for a marked bridleway on the left, behind the Spring Elms Lane road sign.

(8) The bridleway soon enters woodland, going gently downhill. Cross the footbridge over a small stream then immediately enter Woodham Walter Common SSSI keeping to the footpath ahead, climbing rather steeply to begin with then less so as it goes ahead between tall trees. Ignore a low waymark (to a bridleway on the left), continuing straight ahead still climbing gently.

The path narrows slightly and meanders through holly bushes for some distance. After a left turn, the path leaves most of the holly and continues between trees. After a few yards the path splits left towards a marker post or continues right; take the left-hand path to the marker post and bear right on a wider bridleway, shortly to begin climbing very gently. After a few yards, at junction of bridleways (way marker 10), take the left-hand path towards a cleared section of woodland, passing a trio of low tree stumps.

Shortly after a dip then a rise, ignore a wide path off to the right but instead keep straight ahead with holly bushes again. Stay on the path, ignoring any side-tracks. After rain, this section can become rather boggy. The path begins to descend slightly more steeply, still wending its way between trees, eventually meeting a confluence of streams and a footbridge.

(9) Cross the bridge then turn right (South) to follow the bridleway uphill, swinging almost immediately left and rising rather more steeply, eventually meeting a garden fence on the right. At the top of the rise cross over the track to Robins Wood and follow the bridleway that continues directly opposite. There are a couple recently created (during lockdown) desire paths on the left just after the start of the bridleway - ignore these.

After 260 yards ignore a stile and footpath on the right, keeping straight ahead to go over (or around - it varies with the season) an earth mound. On the left are the fairways and greens of The Warren golf club that the path tracks alongside for some distance. Ignore the marked footpath that crosses the bridleway at a warning sign, keeping straight ahead. The path eventually leaves the golf course and continues ahead to meet a road. Cross carefully to reach the departure point on Old London Road. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 67 m - Parking Area, Old London Road
1 : km 1.29 - alt. 46 m - Tom Tit Lane
2 : km 2.01 - alt. 40 m - Old London Road
3 : km 2.24 - alt. 41 m - Track Junction
4 : km 3.1 - alt. 31 m - Track Junction
5 : km 3.81 - alt. 32 m - Rectory Road
6 : km 4.1 - alt. 34 m - Little Baddow Road
7 : km 5.26 - alt. 47 m - Path Junction
8 : km 5.84 - alt. 79 m - Spring Elms Lane Road Sign
9 : km 7.11 - alt. 75 m - Confluence of Streams/Footbridge
D/A : km 8.5 - alt. 67 m - Parking Area, Old London Road

Useful Information

Start : Parking area in Old London Road opposite the Warren Golf Club entrance. (CM9 6RN) Grid ref. TL 804 059

Parking : Parking is on Old London Road opposite the Warren Golf Club entrance - there are dirt pull-offs on both sides with space for up to five or six cars (CM9 6RN).

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

For a beautiful description of this Wilderness, and others, you may like to read "The Wild Places", Robert Macfarlane, 2009

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.