- Start: High Street, Widdington (GR 538317)
- End: High Street, Widdington (GR 538317)
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Fleur-de-Lys pub on the High Street
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 195 Braintree and Saffron Walden
- Difficulty: Medium
Widdington, in the north-east of Essex, lies in a beautiful and historic part of the county, as this walk featuring old manor houses and medieval barns reveals
Head south down the High Street, with the Fleur-de-Lys pub on the left. As the road bears right, go straight ahead on to Wood End. At Widdington House, just past the bench, turn left down a gravel track. The track leads to a house and then becomes an enclosed lane. The track goes into Priors Wood, a great example of a coppiced woodland. Priors Wood is also a remnant of much larger woodlands which were cleared to create farmland and moated properties in the area. The track enters a clearing, turn to the right and follow the edge of the woodland, the track will then re-enter the trees. As the track reaches the edge of the woods, follow it round to the right, keeping inside the woodland and then left through a gate. Once through the gate, go straight over the field to join a byway. Turn left onto the byway, which meanders alongside the River Cam through the beautiful undulating countryside to the road.
At the road, turn left then immediately right up Mole Hall Lane. The road runs behind Mole Hall Wildlife Park, past Mole Hall Farm and onto a track. A little way up the track, turn left onto a footpath and follow the path round to the left. At the yellow arrows turn right away from Swaynes Hall and walk towards the radar tower along the field edge. At the end of the field, go through the vegetation and turn left. Follow the field edge for a short way before turning left again into the next field. Follow the path past the woodland, just after it, turn immediately left through a gap in the hedge. The path heads diagonally right across the field from this point, gradually moving away from the hedge on the right. The path re-joins the field edge again and at the yellow arrows turn left towards the telegraph poles. Turn right at the trees, and then follow the path round to the left to the church. The church has an interesting history and some fascinating gravestones, if you stop to read them. In 1771, the whole church steeple and ten feet of the wall collapsed, burying the bells. The wall was replaced with red brick and a dovecote but as a result the church is now much shorter in length. At the road, turn right along the lane into the village, turning left at the bottom, back into the High Street. If you turn right, this will take you to Priors Hall Barn. This is a late 14th century barn of the Essex-type and is featured on the village sign. The adjacent hall, Priors Hall, was owned by a French priory and originally farmed by monks. English Heritage examined the building and discovered Saxon brickwork, which could mean that the house is one of Britains oldest.
Distance: 3 miles / 5.7km / 1 hours
Terrain: Undulating, some road walking on quiet lanes
Start: High Street, Widdington (GR 538317)
Map: OS Explorer 195 Braintree and Saffron Walden
Parking: Along the High Street, but please park considerately
Refreshments: Fleur-de-Lys pub on the High Street
Tourist Information Centre: Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre, 1 Market Place, Market Square, Saffron Walden, Essex CB10 1HR
Places to visit: Priors Hall Barn in Widdington. A medieval barn owned by English Heritage.
Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk for more details.
Mole Hall Wildlife Park. Visit www.molehall.co.uk for further information.
About Open Access
Open Access Land means that where you see this symbol you can walk without sticking to the mapped paths. For more information on Open Access and the right to roam visit www.openaccess.gov.uk or
call 0845 100 3290
Each month Essex County Councils Public Rights of Way team provide Essex Life with a walk in the county. Walking, riding and cycling leaflets are available to download from www.essex.gov.uk or call 08457 430430