This walk is centred on the gentle landscape of the Blackwater Valley, close to Constable Country, and includes some very tranquil and scenic stretches along the river itself, interspersed with long stretches along country lanes, green lanes or field boundaries with wide and extensive views across the rolling Essex countryside of fields and woods.
A pre-lunch north westerly loop explores the valley cut by Robin’s Brook, leading to Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum, with its atmospheric early lunch stop in a converted barn.
There are a further four recommended lunch stops in Coggeshall itself (two pubs and two cafes) plus an upmarket Brasserie to choose from.
Coggeshall is one of Britain’s most historic market towns. It has 300 listed buildings, amongst the ones passed on the walk are Britain’s oldest barn and one its finest medieval buildings, built on the remnants of a 12th century abbey, an impressive carved timber-framed Wool Merchant’s house as well as a couple of photogenic watermills and an outsized church.
A much shorter walk of 16.3 km length enables extended visits to the NT properties en route.
A scenic extension in Coggeshall leads west from Grange Barn along the Essex Way and back along the wooded Blackwater valley, closely following the river.
West Street Vineyard West Street, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1NB (01376 563 303). West Street Vineyard is 7.0 km (4.3 mi) into the walk and a 30 year old vineyard, bought by the current owners in 2009 and also offers wine walking tours and wine tasting. Open 09.00-17.00 Sun-Thu and 09.00-23.00 Fri-Sat.
Bouchier’s Barn Café Marks Hall, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG (01376 563 796). Bouchier’s Barn Café is located 11.1 km (6.9 mi) into the walk in a beautifully restored 15th Century barn, which was moved to its current spot timber by timber in 1991 from a site about a mile away. It offers information on Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum, a shop and a tea room serving morning coffee, light lunches and teas, with homemade cakes available all day. Cooked food 12.00-14.30. Open April-October Tue-Sun 10.30-17.00; November and February-March Fri-Sun 10.30-16.30; December-January Sat-Sun 10.30- 16.00, as well as Bank Holiday Mondays and Tue-Sun during Half Term Holidays.
Ranfield’s Brasserie 4-6 Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TT (01376 561 453). Open Wed-Sun 12.00-14.00 and 19.00-21.00. Ranfield’s is located 14.4 km (8.9 mi) into the main walk, and 7.5 km into the short walk. The 16th Century half-timbered building was originally converted into a restaurant in 1986 by Peter Langan, of Langan's Brasserie in Mayfair.
Clock House Tea Rooms 1 Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TT (01376 536 242). Open Mon-Sat 10.00-17.00 and Sun 10.00-16.30. The Tea Rooms are located 14.4 km (8.9 mi) into the main walk, and 7.5 km into the short walk, and they serve light lunches, sandwiches and cakes in a historic building with a walled garden at the back.
The Chapel Inn 4 Market Hill, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TS (01376 561 655). Food served Sun-Mon 12.00-15.00 and Wed-Sat 12.00-15.00 and 18.30-21.00. The Chapel Inn is located 14.4 km (8.9 mi) into the main walk, and 7.5 km into the short walk. It was built on the site of an earlier chapel on the old Roman Military Road from Colchester to St Albans via Bishops Stortford. Remains of the Roman road with its drainage aqueducts can still be seen in the beer cellar.
The White Hart Hotel Market End, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1NH (01376 561 654). Food served Mon-Sun 11.00-22.00. The White Hart is located 14.5 km (9.0 mi) into the main walk, and 7.6 km into the short walk, and it is set in a building that dates back to the 15th Century and still has a wealth of original features, notably its attractive timbered room.
The Woolpack Inn 91 Church Street, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1UB (01376 561 235). Open Mon-Sun 11.00-23.00. Food served 12.00-14.00 and 18.00-21.00. The Woolpack Inn is located 14.9 km (9.2 mi) into the main walk, and 8.0 km into the short walk. The Woolpack was built in the 15th Century and became an Inn in 1708. It is now Grade I-listed.
The Bell Inn The Street, Feering, Essex, CO5 9QQ (01376 570 375). Open Mon-Thu 11.30-14.30 and 18.00-23.00, Fri 11.30-14.30 and 18.00-24.00, Sat 11.30-15.00 and 18.00-24.00; Sun 12.00-24.00. The Bell Inn is located 2.0 km from the end of the walk and is a 16th Century inn.
The Sun Inn 3 Feering Hill, Feering, Essex, CO5 9NH (01376 570 442). Open Mon-Fri 12.00-15.00 and 17.30-23.00, Sat 12.00-23.30 and Sun 12.00-22.30. Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.30, Sun 12.00-20.00. The Sun Inn is located 0.5 km from the end of the walk.
The Railway Tavern 182 High Street, Kelvedon, Essex, CO5 9JD (01376 570 293). Open 12.00-23.00. Food served Mon-Thu 12.00-15.00 and 17.00-21.00, Fri-Sat 12.00-21.30, Sun 12.00-20.00. The Railway Tavern is located 0.4 km from the end of the walk on the banks of the Blackwater River. It includes a restaurant, a snug area, a bar area and al fresco riverside seating.
Kings Fish Bar 201 High Street, Kelvedon, Essex, CO5 9JD (01376 570 565). Open 11.30-14.00 Tue-Sat and 17.00-21.30 Mon-Wed and 16.30-21.30 Thu-Sat. Closed Sun.