- Start: Great Leighs Village Hall, Boreham Road GR 728 172
- End: Great Leighs Village Hall, Boreham Road GR 728 172
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Pubs in Great Leighs and The Compasses Inn en route at Littley Green
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer 183 Chelmsford and the Rodings
- Difficulty: Medium
There is a feast of treats on this walk which incorporates the oldest licensed premises in England and a tasty Essex huffer...
Great Strides in Great Leighs
Turn right out of the car park then right onto a bridleway opposite Coopers Lane alongside the sports field. At Castle Close turn right along the road. Castle Close is probably named as such due to its proximity to the pub, St Annes Castle, on the main road.
The pub claims to be the oldest licensed premises in England. Due to a fire the exterior no longer reflects this, but the pub does appear in the Domesday Book of 1086. As the road ends keep ahead on to a surfaced path. Keep right down the drive to the road. Cross over, turn left along the pavement then right onto a bridleway on a Tarmac lane. Follow this across the A131.
At the T-junction turn right and follow as it becomes a lane. Keep ahead at the junction. Turn left over a stile into a field, there may be livestock in here. Go diagonally right across the field heading for the stile. Cross the stile and go straight ahead. At the footpath junction, turn right. Follow the path round to the left and then turn right across the river. Turn left once across and follow the small woodland round to the right. Turn left up the track and in the farmyard head diagonally right across to the road at the barrier. Turn left at the lane.
As the road dips down hill, turn right on to a footpath along a farm track. The track leaves arable fields behind and enters rough grassland. Take the second footpath on the right which runs alongside a field edge. At the corner of the field turn left then immediately right over a bridge.
At the next field, turn left and head for the stile, this can be walked round, into a tree-lined lane. Cross over a stile next to a field gate. Before the road turn right on to the footpath past Old Shaws Cottage. The path is only on the gravel driveway for a couple of metres before a yellow arrow directs you on to the field edge. At the corner of the field head diagonally across the crop to a gap in the hedge which meets the road.
Turn right and at the junction turn right. As the road comes to Mabbs Farm turn left next to horse paddocks. As you enter the next field go diagonally right across the field heading for the white-topped post in the corner. Once over, turn left and follow the field edge to the road, as you come out opposite The Compasses Inn in Littley Green, where you can sample an Essex huffer (a soft white roll stuffed with meat or a fruit filling before being baked).
Turn right (unless stopping for a quick drink) and stay on the road for around 1km. Once past Mattocks Farm take the next footpath on the right. Go straight ahead through the crop, to the left you will see a white-topped post by a bridge, once level with this turn left in a right-angle and walk straight towards it.
Cross the bridge and walk ahead in to pasture land following the mown path to the road. Turn right and take the next footpath on the left across the field towards the bridge. Cross over the bridge and stile, over the meadow and then across the River Ter in to woodland. Follow the path uphill to Rectory Lane.
Turn right and follow the road round to the left. At the corner, turn left on to a byway. Once past the ornate black gates on the left, take the next footpath on the right, keeping to the hedge on the right. As you turn the corner you will see the back of Great Leighs ahead of you.
At the fingerpost turn right and then keep ahead to the A131. Once over the bridge walk straight ahead to join the main road. Cross the road and turn right. Turn left on to the next small road along a pavement that turns in to an alley. At the road turn right then left at the T-junction. Take the alley on the right, just before the primary school which turns in to Coopers Lane. Turn right to get back to the village hall.
Distance: 5 miles / 8.9 km / 2 hours
Terrain: Fairly flat, some road walking and 3 stiles and potential livestock en route
Start / parking: Great Leighs Village Hall, Boreham Road GR 728 172
Map: Explorer 183 Chelmsford and the Rodings
Refreshments: Pubs in Great Leighs and The Compasses Inn en route at Littley Green
Tourist Information Centre: Braintree Tourist Information Centre
Places to visit: Great Notley Country Park and Discovery Centre, 100 acres of park and a caf. Call 01376 347134