A walk around Hatfield Broad Oak, Matching Green and area
Description: A walk through some of the Rodings (in central-west Essex.) The walking is generally easy.
At the time the walk was formulated (early November,) there were obviously no problems experienced with dense growth of crops. I imagine however that some of the routes, especially across the middle of some of the fields could be quite awkward at some times of the year. I'll re-visit this route next year and report any problems.
OS Ref: TL546166
Length: 14½ Miles approx.
Approximate time: 5 - 5¾ hours.
Parking: At small car park to west of church.
Refreshments: Pubs at Hatfield Broad Oak and Hatfield Heath.
Start by leaving the car park the same way that you drove into it. Keep ahead at a junction to walk in a SSE direction, following a signpost to Cage End. Pass one road on the left, but turn left at the next (Cannons Lane.) Follow the road to a signpost pointing to the right. Take this turn to walk onto a field, crossing the middle. After the first field, turn slightly right to cross into the next field, then follow its left edge for a while. Cross into the next field, changing over to be on its right edge.
Follow the path to a metal barn then turn right. Keep to the left of a works unit (Photonic products,) just to the left of a fence, with a road on the other side (to the left of some trees.) On coming to the road, cross it then walk near the left edge of a meadow. You're making for a small gap, just to the right of the left edge of the meadow. On coming to it, there's a stile to cross. Turn left in the following field, then follow the edge of Row Wood, turning first right then left. Leave the edge of the wood to carry on to a way-marker on the far side of the field. Turn right at the marker to walk on the left edge of the field.
Follow the path into a copse, then turn left to continue on the path, which is now enclosed for a while. We're soon out in the open again, this time following the right edge of a field. The path becomes enclosed again, just after the junction with another path from the left. Keep ahead, turning right after a short while. At a signpost, follow it to go to the right of a property. Shortly, we come to a road. Follow it in the same southerly direction for a very short time, going left at a footpath signpost. This is a new path, and has been diverted from its original course. It only appears on the latest OS map.
I can imagine this path would be a really pleasant place to roam along in the summer, with the windmill near Aythorpe Roding in the background (when I took the notes for this walk, it was in November!) Anyway, keep to the left field edge, following its rather convoluted route for approximately 1200 metres, eventually coming to a tee junction of paths. Turn right here, then shortly afterwards, follow a way-marker to walk to the left of a wire fence. Continue this path (to the left of Marks Hall Fishery) to a bridge. Cross it then carry on along the perimeter of the fishery, turning left at a corner, by a small transformer station.
Keep in this direction for a short way, soon reaching a road. Turn right onto the road, taking advantage of a pavement that appears after about 20 metres. Soon, there's a footpath signpost to the left. Take this turn then follow the path across a field, aiming for the third power-line pole from the left of the field. When you arrive at the pole, you'll see a yellow arrow on it, telling you that this is the way to go. Continue to the far side of the field, to go through a gap. Turn left, carry on to the corner of the field, then turn right by a way-marker. Follow the left edge of this field (with a ditch to the left,) to come to Church Lane.
Turn right at the lane and follow it to a signpost to the left (at a right bend in the lane.) Walk to the right of a neatly planted row of trees to the corner. Cross a plank bridge, ascend three steps then turn left. Follow the edge of the field, then turn right at a way-marker. It may not be too clear to see where the path is at first, but after a short while, a gap about half-way along the opposite side of the field can be seen. Make for this gap, turn left after going through it onto a lane. Follow the lane for a brief spell, then turn right at a gap. There's no signpost here (when taking the notes for the walk), but this is the correct way - trust me! Follow to the right of a boundary for about 80 metres, coming to a bridge on the left (don't put your foot down a rabbit hole here as I did!) Cross the bridge, then walk diagonally across the following field in the direction of Abbess Roding church. Make your way to the far corner of the field, passing a pole with a "domestic level" transformer on it. Walk through a farmyard, going due south, heading for the far left corner. Taking heed of a way-marker here, turn left and walk adjacent to the church for a short spell. Cross a bridge then turn right at a road. At this point you may want to visit the delightful church. Parts of it date back to the 14th century.
Walk past the church, pass a road to the left (School Lane) to follow a signpost in the direction of Little Laver. Carry on to a footpath signpost pointing right (on the opposite side of the road.) Walk between some properties to a meadow. Turn half-right here to walk to a gap in the boundary. Go through the gap then turn left. Continue to go left of a way-marker, crossing a bridge shortly after. Keep to the right of a boundary to follow the left edge of a field with the boundary to your left. Where the boundary ends, continue in the same direction to come to the right edge of the field. The OS map shows the right of way coming away from the edge of the field, but it seems best to stay close to the edge of the field. I can't imagine anyone taking exception to this.
Follow the contours on the right of this field, turning left at the corner. Keep along the edge until you come to a gap on the right. Here, take the lane on the other side of the gap to walk to the left of a very tumbledown water tower. I've not mentioned it as a navigating landmark here, as it may not be around too much longer! Keep on the lane, leaving it at a way-marker just after a left bend in the lane. Walk to another way-marker, turn right then stop for a while!! With your back to the way-marker, you need to aim for the middle of the apex on the right of the wood in front of you. I only point this out because I made a bad detour first time I did the walk. Maybe it's just because I'm a bit thick?
Now we've taken stock, carry on in the (due west) direction mentioned. There is a short bit of ground ahead to take you to the apex mentioned. Skirt the right side of this (Rookwood Hall) wood. After 400 metres or so, turn left at a way-marker to cross a bridge. Follow another way-marker to walk to the right side of the wood. Turn right at a radar installation. Keep ahead, soon turning left (due west again) to walk diagonally across a field, towards a gap with a fence by it.
Cross a bridge, then follow a way-marker to keep along the left edge of a field. Follow the bridleway you are on for about 600 metres, until you come to a meeting of bridleways. Turn right here to follow a concrete path though an old airfield (Matching Green.) After a short distance the concrete gives way to a more rustic earthy track. Keep along this track to a road. Turn left onto the road, then shortly afterwards follow a way-marker to the right of the road. Follow the direction pointed to by this way-mark, aiming for a gap about halfway along the hedgerow ahead. Go through the gap then turn right to follow part of an enclosed bridleway. Keep along the bridleway to a road.
Go to the right of a barrier then turn left onto the road. There are some decent views to the right for a while. Look out for a bridleway signpost to the right, about half-way round a left bend in the road. This may be a bit awkward to see, especially if it's overgrown. Turn right at the (sometimes muddy) enclosed bridleway and follow it for about 600 metres, coming out at a small industrial estate at Kingston's Farm. Go through the estate units, carrying on along the road until it bends left. At this point, take an enclosed byway to the right. Keep on this byway (which can have a really muddy part near the beginning) for the best part of 1000 metres, leaving it at Parvilles Farm.
Turn left after the bridleway onto a road. Follow the road to the right, then take heed of a way-marker to head to head north, along the right side of a reservoir. This reservoir was not exactly "brand-new" at the time of writing this walk, but it does seem to have "slipped the net", and it's not even been included in my new (February 2006) OS map of the area! Anyway, follow a way-maker left at the far corner of the reservoir. Keep on along the edge of the reservoir, turning left again before coming to a concrete bridge on the right. Cross the bridge then turn right to follow the right edge of a field for about 120 metres.
Turn left at the boundary with another field, heading gently uphill for about 200 metres, before turning right at the end of the field to the right. Follow this track that soon opens up to become a road. At a junction turn right in the direction of Friars Farm. Keep ahead to a footpath signpost pointing left. Take this turn to follow the left edge of a field. Keep to this edge as it goes first right then left, following it around the furthest side to come back slightly on itself. After making a double right turn at the far side, turn left at a gap to walk along a path known locally as "Barkers Lane". Follow the "lane" to the left before it comes to a tee-junction with a road.
Turn right at the road, then bear right soon after to walk along the outskirts of Hatfield Heath. You may want to visit Hatfield Heath at this point by going left into the village. If you did, then walk back to here to carry on! At the end of the road, cross a main road, then cross a green to turn right onto the Hatfield Broad Oak road (opposite a road named "The Shaw".) Use the pavement on the right to walk along the road first to the right, then left to come to a footpath signpost. Turn right opposite a property named "Town Grove".
Keep along the footpath, which initially has some paddocks to the left. Soon the church tower at Hatfield Broad Oak comes into view. Carry on along this path which now follows the right edge of a field for a way. After some while the path diverts diagonally left, following a power-line to come to a way-marker. Cross a bridge then walk along the right edge of a field. Soon, you'll come to a way-marker, with a bridge on the right. Cross it, then go left to walk through a wooded area for a short while.
Exit this wooded area to be on the left edge of a field. Carry on along the path to come to a gate, with a choice of going left or right by it. Take the option to the left, then follow an enclosed path to a bridge on the left. Cross the bridge, turn right and walk along the right edge of a field. After approximately 300 metres, go to the right side of a net fence. Follow the enclosed path to a road.
Turn right onto the road, then follow it, using the pavement, going gradually uphill towards your goal. The goal? - Well - carry on along the road to a right turn. Don't make this turn, but turn left, thus coming back to the origin of a hopefully enjoyable walk!
Click here to get an OS map with the route highlighted