- Start: Stour Estuary Nature Reserve car park GR190 309
- End: Stour Estuary Nature Reserve car park GR190 309
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: None en route, the nearest pub is in Ramsey
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 184 Colchester
- Difficulty: Medium
The Stour Valley is a beautiful area of Essex and this walk enables you to enjoy a small part of it
Distance: 5 miles / 8.1km / 2 hours
Terrain: Undulating paths, some road walking, one railway crossing, no stiles
Start: Stour Estuary Nature Reserve car park GR190 309
Map: OS Explorer 184 Colchester
Parking: Stour Estuary Nature Reserve
Refreshments: None en route, the nearest pub is in Ramsey
From the car park at the Stour Estuary Nature Reserve, take the entrance to the reserve on the left by the information point and follow the track in to the reserve. The reserve is really in two parts; the woodland, which is home to nightingales, and the estuary, for wading birds. In the spring the woods become a carpet of wild flowers such as primrose and dog violet. In the winter, Copperas Bay is home to thousands of wading birds. Both Copperas Bay and Stour Wood are looked after by the RSPB.
At the fork, take the right one and at the public footpath, turn left. The path approaches a house, go past the barrier and right down the track and then left towards the yellow arrow, just past the gate. As you exit the woods, keep ahead on the well-walked path across the field. At the track, turn right across the railway bridge then right again following the field edge, turn left at the corner of the field and head downhill towards the River Stour, keeping left at the fence to the property. This is the western side of Copperas Bay. The name Copperas Bay comes from the old industry of gathering copperas (bisulphide of iron) which was used in the manufacture of dyes, ink and sulphuric acid. The copperas was dredged from the mud in the bay here.
At the bottom of the hill, turn left towards the woodlands. Keep by the riverside through the woodland. Once out of the trees, keep by the river. The path bends round to the right in to a blackthorn-lined path nearer the waters edge; here there are excellent views of the Royal Hospital School across the river. The school was founded as part of Greenwich Hospital in 1712 and eventually moved to its new home here on the edge of the River Stour in 1933. The old school buildings in Greenwich are now home to the National Maritime Museum. Once past the farm, the path comes off the sea wall and back on to the field edge. At the lane, turn left towards the road.
At Church Road turn right towards the church and its unusual bell cage. In the 17th century the bell tower is reported to have fallen down and the bell was put for safekeeping in the cage in the churchyard. However, the tower was never rebuilt and the bell remains in the cage. Stay on the road following it round to the left. Just past the entrance to Oakfield Wood, a green burial site, and as the road bends round to the right, turn off the road on to a footpath on the left.
The green burial site is a project which involved the Essex Wildlife Trust. If you are buried here, a tree is planted on your grave instead of a stone, with the hope that a woodland will grow up on the banks of the Stour.
Follow the field edge towards the old oak tree. Past the tree, cross in to the next field along a path and head towards the railway line. Keep an eye out on the right for a yellow arrow by a gap in the fence. Go through the kissing gate, over the bridge and up the steps to cross the railway. Once over, go down the steps on the other side and back through the kissing gate. This brings you out on to the edge of Brakey Grove, which is designated as ancient woodland. Keep ahead following the yellow arrows across the bridge and to the road. Turn right along the road. At the S-bend turn right on to a footpath across a field. At the house, take the footpath straight ahead keeping an eye out for the gap in the hedge with a yellow waymark by it. The path heads out in to fields; keep going straight ahead towards Harwich Road, keeping the young trees to your right.
At the road, turn left. As the road turns sharp left, turn right on to Butlers Lane, signposted as a footpath. Follow the track round to the left, just before Butlers Farm take the path off to the left beside the hedge. As the hedge goes right, the path carries on straight ahead across the field. At the field boundary, go straight ahead, again through the crop, to the right-hand corner of the field, following the yellow directional arrows. Turn right then immediately left on to a path beside a field. At the road take the path opposite. Follow the wide path over two bridges and up to another road. At the road, turn right along the pavement, as the pavement runs out take the footpath on the left down a private road to Woodcutter Cottage. Follow the track; as it reaches the woods turn right on to a footpath which eventually turns left in to the woods. Keep ahead at the cross roads. As the path reaches the road, turn left on to a permissive path, which avoids walking on the road, back to the car park.
Tourist Information Centre:
Clacton on Sea Tourist Information Centre
Town Hall, Station Road,Clacton, Essex CO15 1SE01255 686633
Places to visit: Historic Harwich including the maritime and lifeboat museums. Visit
www.harwich.netfor more information
About Open Access
OpenAccess Landmeans 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 fromwww.essex.gov.ukor call 08457 430430