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.

Last checked and updated: 22 June 2021 - see below

Technical sheet
No. 2629073
A Woodham Walter walk posted on 04/10/19 by Ralph's walker. Update : 29/07/21
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 : -
Church! Back to the start A field A Bit of a Squeeze


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, 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 now, still wending its way between trees, eventually meeting a confluence of streams and a footbridge.

(2) Cross the bridge 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 Robins Wood and follow the bridleway that continues directly opposite. There is a recently created (during lockdown) path on the left just after the start of the bridleway - ignore this. After 260 yards ignore a stile and 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. 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, going either 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. Near the edge of the wood with a ditch and earth banks ahead, turn left on a 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 (this section can be quite overgrown in spring and summer). 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 on Bryant's Lane and just before the driveway to Little Smiths Cottage follow the fingerpost left 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 summer but it is not too far to push through. If it is too overgrown, follow the alternative route * below.

At the end of the fence cross the stile and, ignoring the way marker 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 on the left 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.

  • The alternative route is to walk along Bryant's Lane, passing Little Smiths Cottage. At the T-junction turn left and walk along Tom Tit Lane for 300 yards. Just after Brook Cottages on the left and a right hand bend, look out for a footbridge on the right, just after the Woodham Walter village sign. Continue the walk at (6) below.

(6) Cross the road, bearing half left, looking out for a 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 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 wood. 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 footbridge
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 - Partially grassy track
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 slightly longer road route. But feel free to follow the line of gates and paddock hooks - on arriving at Spring Elms Lane bear right to find the bridleway.

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

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.8/5
Number of opinions : 5
Description quality : 4.6/5
Routemap quality : 4.8/5
Walk interest : 5/5

on Tue 04 May 2021 12:14:29 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 03/05/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Very enjoyable walk, clear instructions easy to follow

on Mon 12 Apr 2021 10:42:58 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 12/04/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Very easy to follow. Good waymarking throughout. Lots of long views across the fields, plus wooded areas.

on Tue 16 Mar 2021 22:56:22 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 18/02/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Loved the walk!

Very detailed and didn't get lost. We found it better written than some of the routes in "50 Walks in Essex/Suffolk" books. But, we've completed a few walks in nearby areas so knew roughly where where we were or were heading. Discovered new parts around Woodham Walter though. Brought a flask of hot coffee and some Iced Belgium Buns as one does. Perfect! Especially in Lockdown.

It was filthily muddy in places which made it quite challenging in some stretches. But, it was winter, it had snowed the week before and rained, so added to the fun and feeling of accomplishment once we'd finished.

@Ralphswalker - Also, from us, many thanks for publishing this!

on Mon 31 Aug 2020 18:59:50 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 31/08/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

An enjoyable walk through woods and local countryside. We weren't familiar with the area but didn't really have any trouble with the instructions. Also, they are some good pubs nearby, so all-in-all a great sucess!

@Ralphswalker - Many thanks for publishing this!

on Mon 06 Jul 2020 11:06:53 CEST

Hello Pigface43

Could you please give me details of where you feel the descriptions are vague or poor so that I can improve them.



on Mon 06 Jul 2020 09:32:15 CEST

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 29/06/20
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

Descriptions range from very detailed to vague and poor so you are likely to get lost if you go this walk and are unfamiliar with the area

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