Description: A walk around rural east Essex. Some parts can seem a bit remote.
A couple of parts of this walk look over some of the best views in Essex, overlooking Maldon and the river Blackwater (from afar,) to name a couple.
The walking is generally easy, but there can be some muddy areas.
OS Ref: TL841020
Length: 8½ Miles approx.
Approximate time: 3½-3¾ hours.
Parking: Roadside parking near the church, in Church Hill or The Street.
Refreshments: None during walk but a pub near the start.
The first part of the walk follows the "St. Peter's way" This is a long distance path from Bradwell to Chipping Ongar.
Start with your back to the church at Purleigh. Turn left and walk about 50 metres along the road in a westerly direction. At a public footpath signpost turn right, go through a kissing gate then walk up some steps. Cross a stile then follow the left edge of a field. After a short while, the path leaves the edge of the field to head gently downhill. At this point just take in the view to the north-east. In the distance you can see the former power station at Bradwell.
Follow the path down to a gate. Go through it to cross a road heading slightly left to take the direction pointed to by a signpost. This follows the line of the road, but it's a bit more scenic. Walk around the left edge of a vineyard, following its curvature to come to a path leading to the road. Turn left onto the road, then soon afterwards right onto a footpath. When I drew the plans up for this walk, there was no signpost for this turning. It should however be pretty obvious.
Continue on this path, first between some houses to come to a stile. Cross it then initially follow the left of a meadow, soon turning right to walk in a WSW direction. At the corner of this meadow, just after a hedge starts, turn right then left, following the way-markers. Cross into a field and take a diagonal route to the top left corner. Cross a stile then turn right onto a byway. Walk along this byway, turning first right then left. When the byway meets a lane (Lodge Lane,) turn left onto it.
Follow the lane as it turns left at Scotts Farm. At a tee-junction, turn right onto Birchwood Road. After a short distance turn left at a footpath signpost. Follow the right edge of a field, turning right after a short time. At a slight bend in the boundary, turn left to cross the field, coming to a crossing point on the ditch by the start of a boundary the other side (it takes a bit of searching for first time!) You should now be going south-west and merging with a single-circuit power-line. When you, and the power-line meet, turn right onto a road!
Follow the road for about 500 metres, passing some farm buildings (Corporation Farm). At a right bend in the road, take the middle footpath of three, to walk in a WSW direction. Aim for a tree, then after walking to the left of it, follow the right edge of this field to its extremity. Go through a gate by a lake, then continue in the same direction to come to a rather make-shift gate. Go through it then turn right, following the field edge to a plank bridge. Cross the bridge then turn left. At the point the boundary goes left don't do the same, but carry on in the same direction you have been going, following a signpost (the first of some white-tipped signposts.)
Follow the path to another white-tipped signpost. Go right at it, crossing into another field. Soon turn left at another signpost (broken when I did the walk!) Head for another of these white-tipped signposts. Pass this then make for - you've got it - another white-tipped signpost! At this post, turn right to follow the edge of Folks Wood.
For some reason, there have been no St. Peter's Way signs recently (although we're still on it.) These seem to have been replaced by the ubiquitous Wild-side Walks signs! Anyway, continue along the edge of Folks Wood until at its north-west corner, then head in a WSW direction to come to Thrift Wood.
Turn left immediately you enter Thrift Wood to follow a path just to the left of the main one. Here we leave the St. Peter's Way. The main path seemed a bit boggy when I did the walk, so I chose the other (less well defined) one. This path twists and turns a bit, just keeping inside the edge of the wood. Follow this path for 500-600 metres, leaving the wood at its south-east tip.
Keep in the same SSE direction along a bridleway following the right edge of four fields. The bridleway eventually comes to a gate. Turn right, then immediately left to walk along a road for a short while. At a footpath signpost turn left to walk across a field, keeping parallel to the left edge of the field. At the far side of the field walk through a ditch (not as bad as it sounds, but may take a bit of finding if the fields are heavy with crops!) After crossing the ditch turn right in the direction pointed by a way-marker. Walk along the right edge of this field to another way-marker telling you to go left. Do this to skirt the edge of Cank Wood. At the SE corner of Cank Wood, turn right onto a bridleway and follow it to a lane.
Turn left at this lane to walk in the general direction of a water tower. At a tee-junction, go slightly right to climb a stile into a meadow. Keep in a slight left line from this stile, and soon you can see another stile in the middle of the far boundary. Cross this stile then square up to follow the path to a hedge gap and bridge, just to the right of a farm track. Cross this bridge to follow the left edge of two meadows.
At a stile (or what used to be one when I did the walk,) cross it then walk at a 45 degree angle, to the right. Mount a new fence to cross it (I guess a stile is coming soon?) Keeping in the same direction, walk to the far left corner of this meadow, coming to a road. Turn left on to the road and walk about 200 metres to a footpath signpost. Turn right there and head gently up-hill.
Soon, you will be met with one of the best views in this part of Essex. Firstly the church at Purleigh can be seen, and then marvellous views to the ENE. A great portion of east Essex can be seen. This walk is worthwhile just for the views you are enjoying now.
Carry on to a plank bridge, cross it to walk along the left edge of a field. The views continue, with a glimpse of the two main buildings of the decommissioned Bradwell nuclear power station. Also the Blackwater estuary can be seen.
Head gently downhill, the path becoming enclosed by fences after a while. Keep on along the path to come to a stile. Cross it then turn left onto a road. A short way along the road is a footpath signpost to the right. Follow it, first going around the right side of a gate. Continue along an "avenue" of trees to come to a way-marker. Go slightly left to cut the corner of a field, soon coming to another way-marker. Cross a stile to join the St. Peter's Way (just before we joined it last time.)
Go across a pasture going slightly up-hill. Cross a stile to the left of a gate, then walk past some farm buildings, making the best of some remaining views to the right. Keep ahead to a white house. Turn left then go through the gate to the church-yard at Purleigh church. Walk through the yard to the lych-gate at Church Hill. This ends a hopefully enjoyable walk.
Click here to get an OS map with the route highlighted (rotated to fit.)