23.7 km (14.7 mi)
OS Landranger 154; Explorer 194, 195
5 out of 10.
This is a relaxing walk in the quiet chalky uplands of north-west Essex, on the borders of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, very much off the beaten track, and with gently rolling hills, plenty of woods and copses as well as some pretty villages. Right from the start the walk takes you past picturesque thatched cottages with ample examples of pargeting, a decorative medieval plastering technique, and on through some farmland to the early lunch stop in Arkesden, one of the prettiest villages in Essex with one of the best pubs and loveliest churches.
The route then gently ascends to Chrishall, the dedicated lunch stop on the full walk, along field boundaries and green lanes. Chrishall village is close to Essex’ highest point and the approach offers fine views into a corner of the Cambridgeshire plain and back down the wide ‘winding valley’ that gives Wendens Ambo its name. After lunch you follow the Icknield Way to Elmdon, with more views north out across the Cambridgeshire plain to Cambridge, then later alongside a high hedge with views off to your right into the winding valley back to Wendens Ambo.
A slightly longer, more westerly route takes you over Essex’ highest point itself, this is rated 6/10.
A shorter route cuts out most of the higher ground including the outlying villages of Chrishall and Elmdon, this is rated 3/10.
Audley End station is on the West Anglia Main Line from Liverpool Street to Cambridge (up to three trains per hour Mon-Sat, two per hour on Sun), with a journey time of between 53 to 68 minutes. Trains usually stop at Tottenham Hale for connections with Stratford services and the Victoria Line.
|Saturday Walkers Club||Take the train closest to 10.30 hours if intending to eat in Arkesden, or the train closest to 9.30 hours if intending to eat in Chrishall, and if walking the extended walk.|
|Lunch and Tea||
The Axe & Compasses, Arkesden, CB11 4EX (01799 550 272). Open 11.30-15.00 and 18.00-23.00 Mon-Fri, 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-23.00 Sat and 12.00-15.00 and 19.00-22.30. Food served 12.00-14.00 and 18.30-21.00 Mon-Sat and 12.00-14.15 Sun. The Axe & Compasses is located 4.9 km (3.0 mi) into the walk and a fine example of a family-run 17th century traditional thatched country pub and restaurant.
The Red Cow, Chrishall, SG8 8RN (01763 838 792) Open 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-late Tue-Thu, 12.00-15.00 and 17.00-late Fri, 12.00-late Sat and 12.00-21.00 Sun. Food served 12.00-14.00 and 18.00-21.00 Tue-Thu, 12.00-14.00 and 17.00-21.00 Fri, 12.00-21.00 Sat and 12.00-15.00 Sun. The Red Cow is located 13.1 km (8.2 mi) into the full walk and 15.1 km (9.4 mi) into the long walk and a CAMRA-affiliated, walker-friendly pub serving pub classics as well as an a la carte-menu.
The Elmdon Dial, Elmdon T:01763 837386. The Elmdon Dial is located 15.1 km (9.4 mi) into the full walk and 17.1 km (10.7 mi) into the long walk. It has been shut since May 2013 when the then new Landlord suddenly died, then went through a (failed) application process for re-classification as dwellings, but is now apparently back on the market as a pub looking for a new Landlord or Landlady.
The Bell Inn, Royston Road, Wendens Ambo, CB11 4JY (01799 540 382). Open 17.00-21.30 Mon, 12.00-14.30 and 17.00-22.00 Tue-Thu, 12.00-22.30 Fri-Sat and 12.00-22.00 Sun. Food served 12.00-14.00 and 18.00-21.00 Thu, 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.00 Fri-Sat (Pizza from 17.30) and 12.30-16.00 Sun. The Bell is located 830m from the station.
The Fighting Cocks, London Road, Wendens Ambo, CB11 4JN (01799 541 279). Open 12.00-23.00 Mon-Sat and 12.00-19.00 Sun. Food served 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-21.00 Tue-Sat and 12.00-18.00 Sun. The Cocks are located 300m off-route just before getting to the station.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk