River Colne and Hillhouse Wood Walk

Distance

4.3 Miles

Start

Nr Fordham,Colchester Essex os 929271

Finish

This is a circular walk

Parking

On the minor road between Fordham and the A1124 at Eight Ash Green. The starting point is where the road crosses the River Colne.
GR 929 271. A parking area beside the River Colne will hold several cars.

Refreshments

The Three Horseshoes, Fordham

Map

Landranger no 168

The Walk

From the parking place cross the River bridge and walk up the road in the direction of Fordham, after 300 yards (275m) turn right up the steps by a public footpath sign, follow the grassy path ahead between two fields, this path is part of The Essex Way. Pass a waymarker post and continue along the right-hand edge of the field, with the fence on your right.

At the corner of the field cross a wooden footbridge with a hand rail, continue ahead along the right-hand edge of this field, as you reach the corner of the field by a waymarker post, go ahead and cross the concrete footbridge with iron hand rails, then follow the defined path through a grassy plantation.
As the plantation ends cross the stile with The Essex Way sign into a meadow. Follow the faint path straight ahead along the left-hand edge of the meadow, hedge on your left. As you walk along, the path becomes more defined, then just before the end of the meadow turn left through a hedge gap by a waymarker post, turn immediately right and continue ahead making towards the wide gap in the hedge ahead.
Cross the concrete bridge and keep ahead on the farm track passing a ruined brick barn on your right. Cross the stile and keep with the farm track uphill, eventually reaching a farmyard. Go through an iron gate beside a barn onto a concrete track, soon meeting a farm track coming up from the right, turn left by the barn on the farm track uphill, an Essex Way sign is on the electricity pole.

On reaching the brick cottages bear left and almost immediately turn left over the stile at a public footpath sign. Continue straight ahead crossing the stiles, along the right-hand edge of the meadows making towards Hillhouse Wood ahead and eventually reaching a wooden kissing gate. Go through the gate and follow the well defined path crossing two wooden footbridges by a waymarker post and on into Hillhouse Wood.

Continue ahead uphill along a delightful woodland path to a waymarker post, continue following the Joe Firman waymarker post. Cross another wooden footbridge then go up the steps keeping with the path as it bears right to the next Joe Firman waymarker post. Turn left here and follow the main track through the middle of the wood, eventually descending to a wooden footbridge and then ascending to the next waymarker post.
From here continue ahead following the Joe Firman waymarker signs eventually reaching the edge of the wood, cross the concrete bridge to the edge of the field.

Continue along the left-hand edge of the field, ditch on your left to a waymarker post, go through the hedge gap and take the sunken path ahead, hedge on your left, field on your right. At the next waymarker post turn right along a hedged path, eventually emerging on a farm track.

Turn left along the farm track soon to emerge on a minor road. Turn left along the minor road passing an attractive pond with a small island on your right and surrounded with splendid trees. Continue along the road ignoring the public footpath sign on your left, Just past here you will pass the magnificent dwellings of Chancers House and Watercress Hall on your right. Ignore the next public footpath sign on your right and continue to the public footpath sign on your left.

Turn left here and take the farm track across the centre of the fields, as the track bears right go ahead at the waymarker post along the left-hand edge of the field, hedge on your left, soon meeting the Essex Way path where the walk started out. Cross the Essex Way path and go over the bridge crossing the River Colne. The paths across the meadows ahead are not defined.
Take off across the meadow in the direction of the waymarker arrow, keep on this line making for the high ground and keeping the pill box away to your left, you will soon see a fence ahead and sewer works to your right, make towards the fence then just before reaching it turn right across the centre of the meadow, sewer works now away to your left.
Make towards the road and you will soon see a public footpath sign and stile in the fence ahead, cross the stile and footbridge to the road, turn right along the road to the parking place.