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Audley End House

18-Aug-16 • Sean O'Neill

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Bridge Street, Saffron Walden

18-Aug-16 • Sean O'Neill

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Essex farmland in late summer

18-Aug-16 • Sean O'Neill

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Monk's Barn, Newport

18-Aug-16 • Sean O'Neill

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Bridge End Garden, Saffron Walden

15-Apr-17 • Sean O'Neill

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St Mary the Virgin, Little Chesterford

Great Chesterford to Newport

15-Apr-17 • moontiger on Flickr

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Thatched cottage, Great Chesterford

03-Aug-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Great Chesterford to Newport (Essex) walk

Through rolling hills and river valleys to the historic market town of Saffron Walden and one of Britain's finest stately homes.

Great Chesterford to Newport
Length

Main Walk: 17½ km (10.9 miles). Four hours walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9½ hours.

Extended Walk, to Audley End: 20½ km (12.7 miles). Four hours 45 minutes walking time.

Short Walk, from Audley End: 15¼ km (9.5 miles). Three hours 25 minutes walking time.

Circular Walk, from Audley End: 18¼ km (11.3 miles). Four hours 10 minutes walking time.

OS Maps

Explorers 195 & 209. Great Chesterford, map reference TL504424, is in Essex, 5 km NW of Saffron Walden.

Toughness

3 out of 10 (4 for the longer ending).

Features

All Essex walks seem to feature lines of pylons marching across enormous crop fields and this one is no exception. On the plus side, most of the farmland walking is along grassy field edges and there are pleasant interludes through small woods and river valleys to add variety.

The walk's centrepiece is the historic market town of Saffron Walden. Originally called Chipping Walden, the town acquired its present name in the Middle Ages when it became the centre for the saffron crocus industry; the yellow pigment was used in cloth-making, food-colouring and medicine. The north-west corner of the town has retained many attractive medieval buildings with fine examples of pargeting, the East Anglian craft of decorating external plaster walls.

You enter the town through the elegant Bridge End Garden, which is well worth exploring. After lunch you could visit the Fry Art Gallery of works by local artists and the impressive church of St Mary the Virgin, the largest parish church in Essex. The suggested route through the town also passes the Norman ruins of Walden Castle and a notable Museum of local and natural history. A short extension would take you to the largest surviving historic Turf Maze in Europe.

Immediately after leaving the town the walk route cuts through a corner of the spacious parkland surrounding Audley End House. Now one of Britain's finest stately homes, the mansion was adapted from the buildings of a Benedictine monastery (Walden Abbey) and since the Dissolution there have been many alterations by a succession of owners. It mostly dates from the 18thC, with interior rooms designed by Robert Adam and the surrounding parkland landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. The property is managed by English Heritage and is open daily from April to October; admission for non-EH members is £19 (2020).

From Audley End the route follows a section of the Harcamlow Way to finish in the large village of Newport, which acquired its name at a time when “port” could mean a town with market privileges as well as a town with a harbour.

Walk Options

For a slightly Extended Walk you could loop back from Newport church via the small village of Wendens Ambo to finish at Audley End station, an extra 3 km.

Directions are also given for an alternative start from this station. This Short Walk goes past the entrance to Audley End House and includes a longer stretch through Audley Park, but of necessity much of its outward route is along roads. This option is mainly intended for those who want to combine a shortish walk with a visit to the house, but it would also be worth considering if you missed the outward train and wanted to catch up the main group at lunchtime. When combined with the extended finish it provides a Circular Walk option.

Additional Notes

The extension to Audley End was added to the original walk in 2020. At the same time the longer route around Audley Park was switched to the alternative start.

Transport

Great Chesterford, Audley End and Newport (Essex) are on the West Anglia line from Liverpool Street to Cambridge. All trains stop at Audley End, so this station usually has two trains an hour. At off-peak times the other two stations are only served by the hourly stopping trains, taking just over an hour from London. Buy a return to Great Chesterford (or Audley End if starting there).

There are several useful bus services if you want to abandon the walk at Saffron Walden. Stephensons 301 (Mon–Sat, hourly to 7pm) goes to Bishop's Stortford via Audley End and Newport stations. In the other direction Stagecoach Citi 7 (Mon–Sat, hourly to 8pm) and CG Myall 132 (Sun & BH, two-hourly to 5pm) go to Cambridge via Great Chesterford.

If driving, there is only limited roadside parking near Great Chesterford station. The small station car park at Newport costs £4 off-peak and weekends; the much larger one at Audley End costs £7 off-peak, £4.50 weekends (2020).

Suggested Train

Take the train nearest to 10:00 from Liverpool Street to Great Chesterford for the Main Walk. Unless you want to allow extra time for visiting Audley End House, the semi-fast train after that would be fine for the alternative start from Audley End.

Train Times
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Timetables
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Lunch

The suggested lunch place (after 7¾ km, or 5½ km from Audley End) is the first pub you come to in Saffron Walden, the 15thC Eight Bells (01799-522790) in Bridge Street. Adjacent to Bridge End Garden (a nice picnic spot), this welcoming old pub serves excellent food and has a quiet patio area away from the street.

There are many other refreshment places in the town. The full walk route passes the Kings Arms (01799-522768) in Market Hill, then later the Saffron Suite & Kitchen (01799-588882) and the Cross Keys Hotel (01799-522207) on the High Street. There are several cafés and coffee shops in and around the central Market Place, and on the way out of the town The Temeraire (01799-516975) is a JD Wetherspoons pub just past the junction with Abbey Lane.

Tea

The suggested tea place in Newport is the 17thC White Horse (01799-540002) on Belmont Hill, a traditional village pub 10-15 minutes before the station. The only alternative is a convenience store on the High Street.

On the extension the suggested tea place is The Bell (01799-540382) in Wendens Ambo, an attractive country pub about 10 minutes before Audley End station. Hot and cold drinks might also be available from the newsagent at the station.

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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

May-21 Sean

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Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Great Chesterford to Newport

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map: Great Chesterford to Newport Walk Map

©

Walk Options

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (17½ km)
  1. Extended Walk, to Audley End (20½ km)
  2. Short Walk, from Audley End (15¼ km)
  3. Circular Walk, from Audley End (18¼ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

If you are doing the Short or Circular Walk (from Audley End), start at §C.

  1. Great Chesterford Station to Little Chesterford (2¼ km)
    • Go out to the B1383 and follow it over the River Cam. Turn right into Church Street and go past the church and a pub. Turn right into Rose Lane and continue on a footpath heading south-east across fields to Little Chesterford. Briefly join a lane heading south through the village.
    1. Arriving from London, cross the footbridge to leave the station by the other platform. Keep left through a small parking area and go along the station approach road to the B1383. Cross it carefully, turn left and follow the road round to the right and over the River Cam (or Granta?). Ignore a lane on the right leading back towards the river but 75m later turn right into Church Street.
    2. You soon come to All Saints church? on the right (and can detour through its churchyard if you wish). Continue past School Street and follow the road (now South Street) round to the left. Keep ahead at a crossroads, passing the Crown & Thistle pub on your right, then in a further 150m turn right into Rose Lane.
    3. Where the lane veers left into a new housing development keep ahead on a tree-lined footpath, heading SE. At the end go straight across a farm track onto a broad path along the edge of a field, with trees on your right. In 250m, at the end of the field, veer right and left to continue in the same direction with a hedge on your left.
    4. Follow this path for a further 500m (with the River Cam off to your right) to reach some houses on the edge of Little Chesterford. Go along a driveway and bear left onto a lane through the village. In 125m, where this turns left, go into a small parking area for the village hall and church of St Mary the Virgin? (which is usually locked).
  2. Little Chesterford to Saffron Walden (Bridge Street) (5½ km)
    • Go through a parking area for the village hall and continue on a footpath past the churchyard and across fields to the B184. Cross the road and take a footpath initially heading east into some low hills, then south. Briefly join a lane heading east away from Westley Farm, then turn right onto a footpath across fields to Catons Lane on the outskirts of Saffron Walden. Take a path alongside a stream and go through Bridge End Garden to reach the Eight Bells pub on Bridge Street.
    1. Go through a kissing gate near the back of the car park and continue alongside the low wall of the churchyard, then gently uphill towards the right-hand end of a line of trees. When you reach them, keep ahead down a slope to come to a stile near the river. Go over this onto a fenced path at the edge of a wood, which comes out into the open at the top of a short rise. Maintain direction alongside a large field to meet the B184.
    2. Turn right briefly onto the road, crossing over at some point. Ignore the entrance to a nursery but then turn left onto a concrete track heading E, signposted as a footpath. The track becomes a broad grassy path which leads into the corner of a large field. Continue in much the same direction for 1¼ km, climbing gently with a hedge on your left and farmland on your right.
    3. A line of pylons gradually approaches from the right and eventually you pass under the power lines. Shortly after this, at the top corner of the field, ignore a gap into the field ahead and instead turn right to go along the top of the field, with a hedge on your left. In 500m go through a wide gap in a hedge into the next field to get a view of Saffron Walden, 2 km ahead.
    4. Continue gently downhill on the grassy track for a further 700m, heading S and eventually reaching a lane leading to Westley Farm. Turn left to head E for 250m; you can soon bear right onto a grassy strip running alongside and slightly above the farm lane. After passing a small chalk pit turn right at a footpath sign onto a grassy track between fields.
    5. In 500m go through a gap in a hedge and continue along the edge of more fields, with a tall hedge on your left. In a further 500m ignore a footpath off to the right and keep ahead on an unsurfaced track, crossing a stream. In 75m veer right into a small parking area in front of the town's football club and take a gravel path between its boundary fence and the tree-lined stream.
    6. The path soon drops down to run close to the streambed. After going over a small rise ignore a footbridge on the right leading to the cricket club's car park to continue on a grassy strip. At the end turn right onto the club's driveway to cross the stream and then immediately turn left through a back gate into Bridge End Garden?.

      These elegant gardens are well worth exploring, either before or after the lunch stop (the afternoon route comes back past their main gate).

    7. The most direct route is to go straight ahead through The Wilderness and then the Dutch Garden to the main gate on the far side. After leaving the gardens turn left onto a path which immediately splits: the left fork leads to Castle Street and the right fork to Bridge Street.

      If you are not visiting the suggested lunch pub you could fork left here and resume the directions at [?] in §E.

    8. To visit the pub fork right onto Bridge Street Path, soon with the Eight Bells visible across the stream on the left. At the far end go out through an opening and turn left to reach its entrance.
    9. Continue the directions at §E.

  3. Audley End Station to Audley End House (2½ km)
    • Go out along the station approach road and turn right onto the B1039. At a T-junction turn left briefly onto the B3183, then turn right into Wenden Road. In just under 1 km take a footpath on the left to Abbey Farm. Go through Audley End village and turn left onto Audley End Road to come to the house entrance gates.
    1. Arriving from London, cross the footbridge to leave the station by the other platform. Bear left through the car park and go along the station approach road to a mini-roundabout. Turn right onto the B1039 and follow it round a couple of bends to a T-junction, with the Fighting Cocks pub opposite. Turn left and go along the B1383 (London Road) for 150m, then turn right into Wenden Road.
    2. You have to walk alongside this road for almost 1 km. There is a tarmac footway at first but this ends soon after you cross the River Cam (or Granta?), forcing you onto a narrow grass verge on the left-hand side. Eventually, after a stretch alongside a stone wall, veer left off the road onto a signposted footpath, heading N.
    3. Follow a grassy track along the edge of a meadow, with a wood behind the continuation of the stone wall on your left. In 400m keep ahead past the outbuildings of Abbey Farm to come to its driveway.

      The afternoon route to Newport is along this farm drive to the right, so if you wanted to cut out the entire loop through Audley End and Saffron Walden you could skip to [?] in §F.

    4. Bear left onto the farm drive, which is also a public footpath. It bends left and then in 100m turns half-right as it passes the old gateway to St Mark's College?. Carry on through Audley End village, heading N again. At the far end keep left at a small triangular green and turn left onto Audley End Road to reach the imposing entrance to Audley End House.
  4. Audley End House to Saffron Walden (Bridge Street) (3 km)
    • Audley Park Continue along Audley End Road and turn right onto the B1383. At Nursery Lodge turn right onto an estate road and continue along the right of way into the north-western corner of Audley Park. Take any route through the parkland to its eastern side and go out onto Abbey Lane. After passing some almshouses turn left onto a path cutting through to Myddylton Place. At a crossroads turn left onto Bridge Street to reach the Eight Bells pub.
    1. Continue along the road, passing Audley End Miniature Railway? on your left and crossing the River Cam on the ornate Adam Bridge. At the T-junction turn right onto a walkway beside the B1383, with an impressive view of the mansion beyond what appears to be a lake?; on the other side of the main road is one of the 18thC monuments? dotted around the estate.
    2. After passing the vehicle exit from the mansion you have a further 350m alongside the main road. Go past Nursery Lodge and turn right onto an estate road, which is also a public footpath.
    3. At the point where the driveway takes you back across the River Cam via a couple of bridges there are two massive concrete blocks, part of a bridge barrier? described on a “Saffron Walden World War Two Trail” information panel. Where the drive swings round to the left after the second bridge veer right as indicated by a footpath signpost.
    4. Audley Park Follow the path round to the right to run between a stone wall and a water channel, coming out into the north-western corner of Audley Park. The suggested route is to bear right onto a grassy path going diagonally across a couple of meadows, going through a gap in the hedge between them.
      • Alternatively, you could simply take the path ahead around the perimeter of the parkland. If you do this, resume the directions at [?] when you reach the main gate on its eastern boundary.
    5. On the far side of the meadows the path approaches a line of trees on the right and continues as a broad grassy strip alongside them. There is a stream in the trees and in 100m a gap reveals a place where you could cross it via a couple of stepping stones.
    6. A straightforward route is to ignore this and carry on alongside the tree-lined stream for a further 100m (though the grassy strip can be muddy where it passes a pond at the head of the stream). On emerging into the corner of a field veer right, then in 50m turn left onto a tree-lined avenue heading E.
      • If you feel capable of scrambling up the bank on the far side of the stepping stones, you could avoid the potentially muddy stretch by crossing the stream here and forking left to go along the full length of the avenue.
    7. At the far end of the avenue you come to the eastern boundary of the parkland, where five or six paths converge on the main gate.

      The afternoon route to Newport is along the path turning sharply right (back through the parkland), so if you want to cut out the entire loop through Saffron Walden you could skip to [?] in §F.

    8. Go out through the iron gate beside a lodge building and bear right onto Abbey Lane. In 75m you cross the medieval town boundary, described on “The Battle Ditches” information panel off to the right, then pass a large green on the left in front of the King Edward Ⅵ Almshouses?.
    9. At the end of the green turn left onto a tarmac path between the almshouses and the United Reformed Church?. This leads into the back garden for “Primes Close”, and although it looks private you can go through an archway and out through its front garden to a narrow street (Park Lane).

      Please respect the privacy of the residents. This useful route is not a public right of way, but a plaque at the Abbey Lane end confirms that it is a permissive path.

    10. Cross Park Lane and go through an opening in the brick wall opposite onto the continuation of the path, which leads into a small open space. Fork right and follow the tarmac path up to its top right-hand corner. Keep ahead through the parking area for Walden Place and go out through an opening onto a cul-de-sac (Myddylton Place).
    11. Bear left and follow this short street out to a crossroads, with two particularly fine medieval buildings on its corners: the former Youth Hostel? on the left and The Close diagonally opposite. At this junction turn left and go down Bridge Street for 75m to come to the suggested lunch pub on the right, the Eight Bells.
  5. Bridge Street to Abbey Lane (1½ • 2 km)
    • Saffron Walden The suggested route through the historic town centre goes via Bridge End Garden and the parish church to the central Market Place. It then loops back (with an optional extension across The Common) via the Museum & Castle grounds and goes down the High Street to its junction with Abbey Lane, where the route joins the Harcamlow Way (HCW). In practice you could take any convenient route to this point.

      This section is a slightly convoluted route around the historic town centre (adapted from the local council's “Town Trail” leaflet), with an optional extension across The Common. There is a crossover point in front of the parish church, so you could omit the outer loop via the Market Place and Castle ruins. More simply you could just go directly along the High Street, picking up the directions opposite the church at [?].

    1. Saffron Walden For the suggested route turn right out of the pub, briefly retracing your steps on the Main Walk. Almost immediately turn right again onto a path between flower beds. Where the path splits near the main entrance gate for Bridge End Garden the walk continues round to the right, on Castle Street Path.
      • If you have not already done so, these elegant gardens are well worth exploring. Return to this point to resume the walk.
    2. Follow Castle Street Path away from the garden. After going through an opening in a bright red wall you pass the Fry Art Gallery? (free entry). At the end turn left briefly onto Castle Street, then in 30m turn right up a tarmac path between houses into the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin?. Bear right to come to the west door of this large parish church (which is well worth visiting).

      If you want to cut out the circuit around Market Place, The Common and the Castle ruins, skip to [?].

    3. If you have been visiting the church, turn left out of the west door onto the tarmac path heading SE. On leaving the churchyard the route continues down a short street, but you might like to detour through the small Dorset House Garden on the left with its modern sculpture, The Children of Calais?.
    4. At the bottom turn left onto Church Street, soon passing the Old Sun Inn? (no longer an inn) on the right, with its impressive pargeting. At a crossroads turn right and go down King Street, passing the Kings Arms on the left. This leads into the Market Place?, with an elaborate drinking fountain at its centre.
    5. Go diagonally across the square and into a passageway (Rose & Crown Walk). This passes the Tiptree Tea Room and leads to the B1052 (Common Hill) in front of The Common. Unless you want to detour across it to see the Turf Maze, turn left and go alongside Common Hill to the crossroads at the north-western corner of The Common, with Church Street to the left.
    6. Detour to the Turf Maze (+½ km)

      1. Go all the way across The Common to find the extensive Turf Maze? on its eastern side. Come back across The Common on a diagonal route to its north-western corner.
    7. The route continues through the Museum & Castle grounds, on the far side of The Common at the crossroads. If the small gate into the grounds at this corner is open, you can go diagonally across the grounds past the Norman ruins of Walden Castle? to the building housing Saffron Walden Museum?.

      If this gate is locked the main entrance to the grounds is 60m away along Church Street; this gate (and the one on Museum Street) should be open at all times.

    8. Follow the Museum's driveway out to Museum Street, with the parish church ahead. Turn left briefly onto the road, then take the path on the right through the churchyard. Follow it past the south side of the church and back to its west door, completing this part of the town circuit.
    9. Take the tarmac path going directly away from the west door, heading SW. On leaving the churchyard you could simply carry on to the High Street, but the suggested route is to go down steps on the right and cut through a small garden, coming out onto the main road a little further along. Either way, turn left onto the road.
    10. As you go down the High Street you pass a few more refreshment places, including the Saffron Suite & Kitchen and the Cross Keys Hotel on the left. At the traffic lights the final pub (The Temeraire) is up ahead on the right-hand side of the High Street, but to continue the walk turn right into Abbey Lane, joining the Harcamlow Way? (HCW).
  6. Abbey Lane to Newport Road (3 km)
    • Go all the way along Abbey Lane and into Audley Park. Head south-west through a corner of the parkland and turn right onto Audley End Road. Turn left to go through Audley End village and stay on the HCW as it heads south-east across Wenden Road to the B1052 (Newport Road).
    1. Go all the way along Abbey Lane, passing the United Reformed Church? and the King Edward Ⅵ Almshouses? on your right. Towards the end you cross the medieval town boundary, described on “The Battle Ditches” information panel off to the left, then go through the iron gate beside a lodge building into Audley Park
    2. Inside the park turn half-left onto a broad path heading SW for 500m, gently uphill at first and passing occasional tall trees. On the far side keep ahead down a track through some trees. Go out through the gate by another lodge building and turn right onto Audley End Road, with the park wall on your right. In 500m fork left at a small triangular green.
      • For a (side) view of Audley End House you would have to carry on past the green for 125m to its main entrance gate, then retrace your steps.
    3. Head S on the private road through Audley End village, signposted as a public footpath. In 200m fork left in front of the old gateway to St Mark's College? onto the driveway to Abbey Farm. This drive (still a right of way) later turns half-right and goes alongside an outbuilding. At the next bend keep left to stay on the drive, ignoring another footpath ahead (the outward route from Audley End station).
    4. Follow the drive past farm buildings, later turning half-right to reach Wenden Road. Go straight across this onto a tree-lined track (Beechy Ride), signposted as a footpath and with farm fields on both sides. In 350m veer right and left past a footpath marker onto a shady path through a belt of trees, with a stream on your left. In 350m this briefly emerges from the trees and you immediately veer left up a slope to another road, the B1052 (Newport Road).
  7. Newport Road to Debden Water (3 km)
    • Continue to follow the HCW southwards across farmland to Debden Water. Turn right to go alongside the stream for 100m.
    1. Cross the road carefully onto the continuation of the footpath, down a slope and through a belt of trees. In 300m the trees thin out and you emerge onto a thin crescent-shaped meadow. Follow a grassy path all the way along its right-hand edge. At the far end cross a ditch on a wooden footbridge and bear right onto a bridleway, heading S with a wood on your right.
    2. Follow the field edge up a slope and briefly round to the left, then fork right downhill at a footpath marker. Continue alongside the trees for 450m, crossing a couple of ditches along the way. At the end of the trees maintain direction up a gentle slope for 500m, with a hedge on your right. At the end turn half-left onto a fenced path, soon with glimpses of Newport in the valley down to the right, 1½ km away.
    3. Follow the path through a wood and then gently downhill on the edge of more farm fields, heading S with a tall hedge on your right. Near the bottom the path used to continue through a tree tunnel but it is much easier to swerve left and right to stay on the field edge. At the bottom turn right (at the crossover point of the HCW) onto a tree-lined path heading W. In 100m you come to a path junction, with a footbridge over Debden Water on the left.
  8. Debden Water to Newport Church (1½ km)
    • Cross Debden Water and turn right on the far side of a meadow to head west along the other side of the valley. Go along the bottom edge of a large farm field and then through a patch of wet woodland to White Horse Lane, with the White Horse pub on the B1383 at the top. Cross the main road and go along Church Street to the parish church.
    1. At the path junction turn left to cross this tributary of the River Granta, coming out into a meadow. Unless it looks waterlogged (when it might be easier to go around its right-hand side) go straight across the meadow on a grassy path. On the far side turn right (leaving the HCW) to go along its top edge and continue along a broad grassy strip, climbing gently between two woods.
    2. You come out into the corner of a huge farm field and keep ahead to go all the way along its bottom edge, about 700m. In the far corner veer right down a short slope to continue on a potentially muddy narrow path through an area of wet woodland for 250m, crossing the River Granta on a footbridge in the middle.
    3. On the far side bear right onto a track going under a low railway bridge to White Horse Lane. Turn left and follow this short street up to the B1383 at the top of Belmont Hill, with the White Horse pub on the left: this is the suggested refreshment place if you are finishing the walk at Newport.
      • For a direct route to Newport Station you could turn left out of the pub, go down the B1383 for 600m (passing a convenience store) and turn left into Station Road, but the full route is more interesting and not much longer.
    4. For the suggested route cross the B1383 carefully by the pub and follow the lane opposite (Church Street) round to the left. Keep right at the quaintly-named Elephant Green, then turn right through a gate into the churchyard. Follow the path up to the south door of St Mary the Virgin?, which is worth a quick visit if open.
    5. If you are doing the extension via Wendens Ambo to Audley End Station, complete the directions at §J.

  9. Newport Church to Newport Station (¾ km)
    • Newport Go down to the B1038 and turn left, then turn right onto the High Street at the T-junction. Turn left into Debden Road to get across the railway and turn right onto a lane leading to the station.
    1. Newport Go directly away from the south door to leave the churchyard by its lychgate, returning to Church Street. Go down to a T-junction with the B1038 (Wicken Road) and turn left to return to the B1383 (now the High Street).
    2. Turn right onto the main road, crossing over at some point and passing the attractive brick and timber Monk's Barn?. For a quieter alternative to the B1383 turn left into Debden Road, taking care as you cross over the railway on a narrow humpback bridge.
    3. On the other side of the bridge turn right down a lane parallel to the railway line. In 250m turn right between low wooden fences to go directly onto Platform 1, for trains to London.
  10. Newport Church to Audley End Station (3¾ km)
    • From the north-western corner of the churchyard cut across a small recreation ground and turn left onto Bury Water Lane for a short distance. Turn right onto Whiteditch Lane and follow it and its continuation as a byway northwards to Rookery Lane on the outskirts of Wendens Ambo. Go through the village and turn right onto the B1039 to come to Audley End Station.
    1. Take the tarmac path going around the church tower to the north-western corner of the churchyard. Leave it through a wooden gate and follow the path northwards. After passing some tennis courts veer left to cut diagonally across a recreation ground to its bottom corner.
    2. Go out onto a path and continue along a cul-de-sac (Tenterfields) to School Lane. Cross over and turn right onto a short tarmac path which crosses Wicken Water on a footbridge, then turn left onto Bury Water Lane. In 75m turn right into Whiteditch Lane, signposted as a byway.
    3. After veering right and left this long lane heads N past swathes of new housing, with a parallel walkway on the right for one stretch. Along the way you join the Saffron Trail? (ST) from a footpath on the right. At the far end the byway continues as a tree-lined path, curving round to the left with a large field on the right and climbing gently.
    4. The path soon swings right to head N again on the broad grassy edge of this field, then bends left and comes to a concrete farm track. Turn right onto the track, still climbing and now with the tree boundary on your right. As you go over the brow of Mill Hill you can make out the village of Wendens Ambo in the valley ahead.
    5. At the bottom of the slope skirt around a new metal gate and turn left onto Rookery Lane. This turns sharply right in front of some large farm sheds, goes past a playing field and comes to a T-junction. Turn right and follow Duck Street through Wendens Ambo?, passing some attractive thatched cottages with pargeting.
    6. In 300m a footbridge beside a ford gets you across another tributary of the River Granta. Follow the road up a short slope towards a T-junction with the B1039 (Royston Road).
      • If you are not visiting the village pub then just before the junction you can go through a wooden fieldgate on the right (with a ST waymarker) onto a tarmac path cutting through the corner of a recreation ground. If you take this minor short cut, resume the directions at [?].
    7. For the suggested refreshment stop go up to the T-junction and turn left to come to The Bell on the left-hand side. After visiting the pub retrace your steps along Royston Road to the T-junction. Go through a small wooden gate on the other side of Duck Street and keep left to join the tarmac path through the recreation ground.
    8. Follow the path out to a short cul-de-sac (Church Path) and turn right, passing a few more picturesque cottages. At the end keep ahead on a tarmac path going up to the church of St Mary the Virgin?. Its entrance is round to the right, but to complete the walk follow the path as it turns half-left to go past the north side of the church.
    9. Go past the car park for the village hall to return to the B1039 and turn right, leaving the ST. After crossing over the railway (where you can see Audley End Station on the right) turn right at a mini-roundabout onto its short approach road. Go past the right-hand side of the station building onto Platform 1 for trains to London.
      Walk Notes
    1. The Granta is the longer of the two main tributaries of the River Cam, joining the Rhee near Grantchester, just south of Cambridge. The Granta's source is in the low hills around Newport, near the end of the walk.
    2. All Saints, Great Chesterford dates from the 13thC but has had many additions over the years.
    3. St Mary the Virgin, Little Chesterford dates from the 13thC and retains much of its original form. It was restored in the 19thC.
    4. Bridge End Garden contains a number of contrasting areas ingeniously linked by paths and views. It was originally laid out in the mid-19thC by Francis Wilson, a prominent Quaker whose family were great benefactors of the town.
    5. The 17thC buildings of St Mark's College were originally almshouses, built on the site of the old Benedictine Abbey's hospital. They are now a Residential Youth and Conference Centre run by the Diocese of Chelmsford.
    6. The Audley End Miniature Railway is a 10¼" gauge railway which runs for 1½ miles through the estate woodland, operating on summer weekends and school holidays.
    7. The serpentine ‘lake’ in front of Audley End House was created by widening the River Cam on its course through the landscaped grounds.
    8. The monuments visible from the walk route are the Temple of Victory in the farmland to the west of the mansion (celebrating British successes in the Seven Years War) and an obelisk in the hillside to the north of Audley Park known as Lady Portsmouth's Column.
    9. The bridge barrier was designed to stop enemy tanks in WW Ⅱ. Heavy steel cables would be drawn across the road between the two concrete blocks.
    10. The King Edward Ⅵ Almshouses in Abbey Lane were built in 1834, but there have been others in the area since 1400. They are now sheltered housing.
    11. The United Reformed Church was built in 1811, replacing an earlier building. There are two other Nonconformist places of worship (a Baptist Chapel and a Friend's Meeting House) in the High Street.
    12. The Youth Hostel was closed by the YHA in 2011. The building dates from the 1490s and was originally a combined shop, home and warehouse; it had also been used as a malting.
    13. St Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden dates from 1250 but was mostly rebuilt in the Perpendicular style in the late 15thC, with the spire being added to the tower in 1832. The church's size reflects the wealth created by the saffron industry. It has a fine organ with a spectacular set of Trompeta Real pipes.
    14. The Children of Calais sculpture by Ian Wolter was installed in 2018. It portrays six refugee children caught in the migration crisis, their poses echoing Rodin's famous 1895 work “The Burghers of Calais”.
    15. The Old Sun Inn is a range of 14thC homes and shops with many different types of pargeting. The intriguing end gable shows two giant figures.
    16. The buildings around the Market Place are mostly Victorian (eg. the Italianate-style Library, originally the Corn Exchange), or older buldings with Victorian additions (eg. the Georgian Town Hall, housing the Tourist Information Centre). The local market was moved from Newport in the 13thC and there are still twice-weekly markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
    17. The Turf Maze on The Common is the largest surviving medieval turf labyrinth in Europe, but its age and purpose is unknown. It is 100 feet in diameter with a mile-long pathway through its convoluted pattern.
    18. Walden Castle was built around 1140 by the Norman Lord of the Manor, Geoffrey de Mandeville. Only the ruins of the keep tower remain from that period; the round tower is an 18thC addition. There are plans to allow public access to the interior of the keep.
    19. Saffron Walden Museum has galleries of local and natural history and an important ethnographic collection. Beside the driveway there some medieval stone coffins and a collection of glacial erratic boulders from the area.
    20. The Harcamlow Way runs for 227 km from Harlow to Cambridge and back again in a Figure-of-8, with the crossover point outside Newport.
    21. St Mary the Virgin, Newport dates from the 14thC, with the tower being restored in the 19thC.
    22. Monk's Barn is a Wealden house dating from the late 15thC. It has a fine carved oriel window depicting the crowned Virgin and Child, flanked by angels.
    23. The Saffron Trail runs for 115 km between Southend-on-Sea and Saffron Walden. Devised by Essex Ramblers, it was given this fanciful name to evoke images of an exotic (but non-existent) spice trail between the two towns.
    24. Wendens Ambo means ‘both Wendens’; two separate parishes (Wendens Magna & Wendens Parva) were joined together in 1662.
    25. St Mary the Virgin, Wendens Ambo dates from the 11thC, with later additions in the Middle Ages and the 19thC.

» Last updated: May 16, 2021

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