Into The Wilderness

An enjoyable stroll near the ancient rural village of Woodham Walter with 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 quiet country lanes. There are only two cross-field paths so it's a good winter walk although, like any hike in Essex, it can be muddy after rain.

Technical sheet
No. 2629073
A Woodham Walter walk posted on 04/10/19 by Ralph's walker. Update : 13/11/19
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h50[?]
Distance Distance : 5.82mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 194ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 203ft
Highest point Highest point : 289ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 82ft
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Woodham Walter
Starting point Starting point : N 51.731569° / E 0.61618°
Download : -


Park on Little Baddow Road alongside the pavement. Since this is a residential area, please park considerately. It can be rather busy at times, acting as an overflow car park for The Bell. If this is the case, just go a little further along the road past Top Road.

(D/A) From the departure point, walk up Little Baddow Road away from the village, passing houses and bungalows. After ¼ mile, turn right 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, head towards a footbridge on the opposite side of the field in the hedge near trees. Cross the footbridge and again keeping in the same diagonal direction head towards an intersection of paths. Still continuing in the same general direction, head towards the corner of the field near power lines and a pole-mounted transformer.

(1) Cross the footbridge to leave the field, turn left on West Bowers Road, which immediately swings right, following the wall of West Bowers Hall, a C15th/16th Grade 2* listed house. Follow this lane past properties as it climbs gently uphill. There are some good views of the Essex countryside on the right. On reaching a three-way road junction with Bassett's Lane on the right, follow the road round to the left, National Cycle Network Route 1, still climbing gently uphill to a T-junction. Here turn slightly right then almost immediately cross the road to take the marked bridleway directly opposite, behind the road sign for Spring Elms Lane. 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 on the right for 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 either of these ways, they join up a little further on at a pile of logs and some wooden ‘stepping-stones’. Continue past the stepping-stones climbing very gently. After a few yards, at a waymarked junction of bridleways, take the left hand path towards a cleared section of woodland. Shortly after a dip then a rise ignores a wide path off to the right but instead keep straight ahead with holly bushes again. Stay on the path, ignoring any sidetracks. After rain, this section can become rather boggy. The path begins to descend slightly more steeply now, still wending its way between trees, eventually meeting a confluence of streams and three footbridges.

(2) Cross the streams by whichever bridge takes your fancy then turn right 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 Robin's Wood and follow the bridleway that continues directly opposite. After 260 yards ignore a footpath on the right, keeping straight ahead to a mound which the path either goes over or around on the right. On the left are the fairways and greens of The Warren golf club that the path follows alongside for some distance.

(3) Ignore the marked footpath that crosses the bridleway at a warning sign reminding walkers that this is a golf course, keeping straight ahead. At a derelict pavilion at the side of the path, you might like to look up to see a bees nest, which has been there for some years. The path eventually leaves the golf course and continues ahead with a high wooden fence on the left hand side, finally emerging at London Road.

Carefully cross the road to take the footpath directly opposite, either going through the gate or over the stile. Ignore the field-edge path that soon goes off to the left between posts, continuing straight ahead 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 wide track between chestnut trees. About 600 yards after entering the wood, the path drops gently down to a stream and footbridge. Cross the bridge and continue ahead on the path, rising gently uphill and becoming slightly narrower as it gets close to leaving the wood. Close to the edge of the wood with a ditch and earth banks ahead, turn left on an track then turn right at a large oak tree where another path joins from the left. This path leaves the woodland to meet metal fencing and the banks of a gravel pit.

(4) Immediately turn left and follow the path between the edge of the wood and fencing, noticing the danger signs for quicksand and deep cold water. Where a path from the wood joins from the left, carry on ahead to follow the fence on the right and more danger signs. The path continues between a hedge on the left and a fence on the right, finally meeting Bryant's Lane beside the large gates of South Lands.

(5) Turn left just before the driveway to Little Smiths Cottage and follow the fingerpost to take the rather narrow footpath between hedge and fence. This is the route of the Maldon Millennium Way – it can be quite overgrown in the summer but it is not too far to push through. At the end of the fence cross the stile and, ignoring the waymarker pointing straight ahead, turn right then almost immediately left at a dilapidated fence to follow an old tarmac track for a short distance. At a pair of large oak trees on the left, ascend the low bank and drop down to a stile in the hedge.

Go over the stile heading downhill for a short distance. Cross the footbridge, ignore the marked path on the left and turn right on the field-edge path waymarked as the Maldon Millennium Way. The path 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.

(6) Cross the road, bearing half left, looking out for a fingerpost and footbridge on the opposite side of the road. 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 left, right, then right again, going very gently uphill towards a waymark post. Here, turn left to follow a wide grassy track towards a fence and farm buildings. On reaching a track and tall wooden fence bear left, following the track through the yard, then through a gap next to the metal gate. The track joins another track from the right. Ignore the waymarked footpath on the left. Go past Woodham Walter Lodge, dated 1757, following the track to reach Old London Road.

(7) 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. At the field corner, follow the waymarked path into woodland – The Wilderness – directly ahead, initially bearing left and going slightly downhill, then rather more steeply for a few yards to reach a footbridge. Continue on this undulating path to another footbridge, ignoring a waymarked path on the left. After climbing the steps, the path goes ahead, swinging right and leaving the woodland at a waymark post.

(8) Turn left, following the fairly obvious path along the edge of the woods. At the end of the woodland, follow the Maldon Millennium Way markers across the field heading towards a tree and marker post in the field. Here again there are good views ahead over the Essex countryside. On reaching the tree and marker post, bear slightly left to follow the field-edge path alongside a ditch on the left.

Ignore the waymarked path over a footbridge between trees, keeping ahead on the field-edge path 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. Turn left, taking the (partially) grassy track across the field towards buildings and trees. Where the track meets a fence line on the right continue ahead, going slightly downhill towards trees with the fence on the right. Where the fence ends, ignore the wide grassy track off to the right but instead go straight ahead into the wood. Ignoring any side paths, go gently downhill to a junction of waymarked paths beside a triple-trunked tree. Here continue straight 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.

(9) Turn left on the road passing Woodham Walter Primary School, dropping gradually down the hill. At the Queen Victoria pub, cross the road to take Top Road until reaching Little Baddow Road and the departure point.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 108ft - Depart
1 : mi 0.77 - alt. 154ft - Footbridge
2 : mi 2.09 - alt. 246ft - Streams and three bridges
3 : mi 2.6 - alt. 233ft - Danger sign - golf course
4 : mi 3.41 - alt. 200ft - Thrift Wood
5 : mi 3.69 - alt. 187ft - Bryant's Lane
6 : mi 4.07 - alt. 148ft - Tom Tit Lane
7 : mi 4.49 - alt. 131ft - Old London Road
8 : mi 5.19 - alt. 102ft
9 : mi 5.63 - alt. 105ft - Rectory Road / Primary School
D/A : mi 5.82 - alt. 108ft - Arrive

Useful Information

Eagle-eyed walkers will notice there is an intersecting footpath just before (1) that goes directly to the bridleway at Spring Elms Lane. This goes through horse paddocks and can be incredibly difficult to follow as the paddocks are rearranged on a regular basis, hence the longer road route.

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

The village church, St Michael’s, can be regarded as the principal building of the whole village. It has significant historical importance, being a red bricked Elizabethan building constructed in 1563.

The Bell, in the heart of the village, is the oldest of the three public houses and is believed to have been built at the same time as the church, to house the craftsmen that were building the church. It is of timber frame construction typical of that era. Please note that, should you wish to visit, muddy boots and workwear are not welcome.

The recorded history of Maldon (the walk's nearest large town) goes back to Saxon times. The epic poem "The Battle of Maldon" describes the Viking invasion and their subsequent victory in 991. A thousand years later Maldon celebrated its Millennium Year with many events, one of which was the creation of the 22 mile Millennium Way.

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