21.6 km (13.4 mi), of which 4.2 km (2.6 mi) on tarmac or pavement.
|Toughness||4 out of 10|
|OS Maps||OS Landranger Map: 167 (Chelmsford), 168 (Colchester) and 178 (Thames Estuary).
OS Explorer Map: 175 (Southend-on-Sea & Basildon).
This surprisingly diverse and rural walk avoids industrial and suburban features often associated with walking in Essex, but instead leads through plenty of rolling grassy fields, quiet lanes and a smattering of woods, before heading through the enchanting - Wildlife Trust run - Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Reserve. After a short stretch along the reservoir itself it then heads for the lunch pub: The Old Windmill in South Hanningfield. The afternoon route leads through more grassy fields, valleys and wooded strips, before following the tidal River Crouch into Battlesbridge.
Shortcut: You can return from the lunch pub to Wickford by bus (approx. every two hours, though not on Sundays).
Alternative endings at South Woodham Ferrers
20.5 km (12.8 mi, rated 3/10), 25.8 km (16.1 mi, rated 5/10) or 30.3 km (18.9 mi, rated 6/10)
This alternative ending is entirely flat, initially following a stream all the way South Woodham Ferrers, with fields either side. It then skirts around the town, briefly passing through Woodham Fenn Nature Reserve and along Fenn Creek, to finally follow for an extended period between the tidal River Crouch, mudflats and creeks on one side, and Marsh Farm Country Park on the other side (a haven for birdwatchers). The long ending is extremely tranquil and very coastal in character. It is especially attractive at low tide. For a timetable of the tide at the river’s mouth (not too dissimilar from the tide at South Woodham Ferrers/Hullbridge) look here, on the Crouch Harbour website.
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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