- Start: Hockley Woods
- End: Hockley Woods
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Bull public house, next to the car park to Hockley Woods
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 175
- Difficulty: Easy
Enjoy a walk around Hockley Woods
Enjoy a walk in Hockley Woods, the largest continuous area of woodland in eastern England and criss-crossed by wood banks dating from the Middle Ages
Distance: 5 miles / 8.3 km / 2 hours
Terrain: Easy going, with three stiles on route by the railway line and Blounts Wood.
Start / parking: Hockley Woods car park, just off the B1013 GR834 925
Map: OS Explorer 175 Southend on Sea and Basildon
Refreshments: The Bull public house, next to the car park to Hockley Woods
Tourist Information Centre: Southend Tourist Information Centre, Pier Entrance, Western Esplanade,Southend, Essex SS1 1EE01702 618747
Places to visit: Rayleigh Mount, site of a medieval motte and bailey castle. For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rayleigh-mount/ or call 01284 747500
From the car park, take the route signposted as the Boundary Trail, past the tree covered in colourful scarves. Hockley Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it is an ancient semi-natural woodland and home to plenty of wildlife. It is also the largest continuous area of woodland in eastern England owing to the fact that Epping Forest is broken up by roads. Look out for cuckoo, nuthatch and brambling and the reintroduced heath fritillary butterfly, depending on the time of year you visit. This is a wide track marked with a blue arrow that is closest to the houses by the edge of the wood. Keep following the blue arrows through the wood. This part of the walk is also part of the 23-mile circular route, the Roach Valley Way. Once over the rickety bridge into an area of cleared woodland, turn left. Keep following these blue arrows until you reach a set of wooden barriers. Continue straight on, now following the Roach Valley Way signs. Just after two wide tracks meet, the Roach Valley Way turns off to the left at another wooden barrier. Keep on the Roach Valley Way. Towards the edge of the wood, the Roach Valley Way turns left into the field, bear left here but follow the path just inside the woods. Go through a staggered barrier, past a bench and continue ahead on the yellow arrowed footpath. The path eventually leaves the wood by another wooden barrier.
Turn right and follow the path along the edge of the field. Keep following the field edge round to the right at a concrete marker post. You will see HMP Bullwood Hall on your right. Bullwood Hall, now a mens prison and Youth Offenders Institute, was a womens prison until 2006. It was originally built in the 1960s as a female borstal. Just after entering the next field, turn right up a footpath signed Jubilee Walk. The path skirts the prison and joins Bullwood Hall Lane. At the main road, turn right. Just before Fountain Lane, take the footpath on your left between houses. The path then opens out into arable fields, bear left along the field edge. The path meets a track; continue along this down the hill to the railway line. At the bottom of the hill cross the stile and carefully cross the railway line. Once over the stile on the other side, bear left. At the path junction take the one in front of you that heads along the edge of the wood by the golf course.
Cross a bridge to leave the woods and turn right into a parking area. Cross the stile and follow the track turning left at the path junction. On reaching a lane, turn right towards the main road. Turn left along the road heading towards the church with its unusual octagonal tower. Turn right at the church, through the car park and follow the path downhill through the graveyard bearing right and exiting by a memorial garden. Continue straight ahead at the next path junction and bear right as the path meets a track. When the track heads right, go straight on through a small kissing gate and over a bridge over the railway. Once over the bridge, turn left following the railway line. The path eventually leaves the railway line following the field edge round to the right. Once round the playing field on the left-hand side, leave the arable field continuing ahead to the road. Turn right then immediately left onto another footpath which comes out opposite The Bull pub and the entrance to Hockley Woods.
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 http://www.openaccess.gov.ukor 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