Essex’s best walks: 4.5-mile circular at Salcott-cum-Virley

PUBLISHED: 10:27 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:16 04 August 2020

Salcott-cum-Virley walk

Salcott-cum-Virley walk

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This walk is off the beaten track and is ideal to avoid contact, but still offers some fabulous views of the county’s countryside | Words and photos: Laurie Page Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council

We have amended this walk to begin at RSPB Old Hall Marshes. If you are referring to the map below you should begin from point number 3

The walk

1) Park at RSPB Old Hall Marshes and find the raised path. There is a seat on the right if you wish to rest and eat your packed lunch. To the left you will see the shallow creeks and tributaries of the River Blackwater.

Salcott-cum-Virley walkSalcott-cum-Virley walk

Continue on through another gate and proceed for about another half a mile. Pass steps and then the path bends right through another gate to Old Hall Farm.

At the footpath post, go right down the steps to a metal gate soon after. Here is where you would rejoin the route if you took the shortcut.

Salcott-cum-Virley walkSalcott-cum-Virley walk

2) Turn left by the metal gate going past Old Hall Farm residence and onto a quiet lane. Pass two cottages. Continue to the next house, Honeysuckle Cottage. Just the other side, turn right through a metal kissing gate onto a footpath which runs alongside a little wood.

This is a long straight grass path which soon runs between a ditch and hedge on the left, and fields to the right. Salcott Church can be seen in the distance ahead. At the footpath sign go straight ahead keeping left of the hedge.

3) At the track, bear right crossing the ditch, then immediately go left leaving the track and crossing a footbridge, turning left after crossing. The path bends right and runs along by a high hedge to the left. Go up alongside a large grass field.

Salcott-cum-Virley walkSalcott-cum-Virley walk

When you reach the end of the field, follow the way-marker turning right along a concrete track, then almost immediately go left onto a footpath across the field heading for the telegraph pole.

Then continue straight on towards the left of the cottages, taking you to Salcott Street. Turn right to reach St Mary’s Church. 

4) From the church entrance, go left along the lane which is a dead end road. Where the lane ends, go through the metal gate and onto a wide grass footpath that runs between two arable fields.

Salcott-cum-Virley walkSalcott-cum-Virley walk

At the other end, cross a footbridge and go up the steps to the raised path above the creek. Turn right along this path which swings left through a wooden gate. Continue for some distance passing through another wooden gate.

In the distance can be seen wind turbines and the redundant Bradwell Power Station. Proceed to the next gate. Here you can go right for the short walk. Otherwise continue on the raised path.

5) Keep to the raised path, although if you need shelter from a cold wind there is an alternative parallel path at the foot of the bank on the right. Pass steps on either side. At the next gate is a path junction. Here you turn right over a stile.

Essex walk mapEssex walk map

Pass a lake and a wind turbine. The wide track runs alongside a water channel. The path swings left and runs through an open gate onto a dusty track. Where the water channel ends and the track S bends, leave the track and go up the bank to the right and through the wooden gate.

Compass points

Distance: 4.6 miles

Starting point: RSPB Old Hall Marshes. There is a car park at the site

How to get there: Turn off the B1026 between Tolleshunt D’Arcy and Salcott onto Colchester Road (on the sharp bend). Almost immediately, the road bears right over a narrow bridge. At the T-junction, make a left onto Back Road and just after the bend another left onto Old Hall Lane. Travel to the end of Old Hall Lane where the RSPB site is clearly signposted and you will see the public car park.

Map: OS Explorer 184 Colchester.

Refreshments: The nearest pub is the Queens Head at Tolleshunt Darcy, but at the time of writing all pubs were closed. You can take a packed lunch and there is a seat near the church entrance.

Places of interest nearby: Nearby Abberton Reservoir is surrounded by an area of salt marsh and there are many walks by the creeks and water tributaries as well as Abberton Reservoir itself, which is home to a huge variety of bird life.

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