Or try one of Paul Brown’sWIVENHOE WALKS (click on hotlinks in the box below for details)
The Short Walk
Ow do all on yer!. Thass right, settle yersels down. Now then, appen some on yer would loike a waak around Wivna, wooncha? Six walks around Wivenhoe and they haven�t changed much from the days when they spoke like that � until recently. Standing on the quay and facing the river the old port on the right is now houses and the shipyard on the left shortly will be. Don�t worry, I will up-date the site from time to time so as not to lose you.
I was hoping they would put a footbridge across the Colne Barrier when they built it like they would have done in Holland. To get to the other side means a walk to Colchester.
You are welcome to send me any comments
The first three walks take in the area from Wivenhoe to Alresford Creek. I call them the SHORT MEDIUM and LONG walks as they all lead on to each other.
P.S. Paul is author of a book about the old railway line which used to run between Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea. It is still available from The Wivenhoe Bookshop. Paul has very generously said he will donate �1 towards the Engine Shed Project for each copy sold from now on.
To start, stand on The Quay at Wivenhoe, outside the Rose & Crown and face the river.
Turn left and walk along the gravel path of The Quay. Keep going and no matter what happens with recent developments, keep the river on to your right and you are heading for the Colne Barrier buildings �you can�t miss them. Continue in front of the Sailing Club, through the noisy gate and on to the sea wall. You will see a sand and gravel works on the opposite bank. When you get level with this and see a large wooden raft on your side. Leave the sea wall and head off on the diagonal track across the marshes.
You will cross the old railway track to Brightlingsea, climbing over difficult stiles and eventually climb a slope. At the top is the main Alresford road. Turn left, cross the railway bridge and be sure to stay on the right side of the road as it is a bit busy. Be especially careful when you come to the right hand bend, round this bend is a track across the fields to the left and the farm track on your right. Now it�s easy! Take the left hand track across the fields which leads to a gravel road, past the farm and you will eventually cross the railway line then go past a business centre. Any of the left hand paths will bring you back to The Quay.
Distance 3.5 miles Time 1hour 30mins
Start as for the Short Walk, but don�t take the diagonal path across the marshes, keep on going. Eventually you will leave the seawall, and walk along the old Brightlingsea railway line. The cinders from the firebox make a beautiful firm path. I have written a book about the line, you can get it from the local bookshop. It�s not boring I promise! It is worth popping up the bank on the right to look at the view or �voos� as we say locally. After a while take the path on the left. It looks like it is going into a wood and has a steep slope on it � that�s the one. Watch the bottom bit- in wet weather it can be one of the worst in the area for mud. I�ve put some concrete blocks down for you I hope they stay there. Climb the slope and just keep on going,. The landowner has kindly made a path inside part of the wood if you want to take it, it follows close to the one alongside the field and is much nicer. You will go through a smart new gate and onto a made up road. Turn left and follow it, there is usually not much traffic, until it curves right and joins the Alresford road. Left again, over the railway and you have joined the short walk. This will take you back again.
Distance 5.5miles time 2hours 30mins
Take the middle walk but don�t turn right up the slope. This is a beautiful area and you are walking along the old Brightlingsea railway once again. You can explore off to the right when you come to the grassy area known as White House Beach. The white house went years ago in Victorian times, probably when they suddenly found themselves with a railway running past their front door. Not to difficult to find where it once was, look for the two large concrete posts on the left. In the Edwardian days, a wave from the carriage window would stop the train so you could have a picnic on the beach.
Continue on after your explore and the path will go off to the left � you won�t miss it. You can, if you want, continue straight on for 200m to see where the train used to cross Alresford Creek. The tin shed on the left is where the pilotman, the man who opened the swinging centre span of the bridge, kept his boat. His cottage was on the left just before you turn off from the track � look for the remains of the house and garden but don�t go in there you might just find the open well and I can�t remember where it is � now, just you listen when I�m a talkin� to ya. I don�t want you a fallin� down some owd hol do I?
Carry on alongside Alresford Creek and see where the Alresford Sand & Gravel Co. used to have a pier with overhead buckets to fill the barges. When joining the made up road by the boating area, turn left and climb the hill. This is rather narrow so watch out for cars. Continue past the gravel works until you come to a cottage on the left hand side at the top of the hill. Turn left in front of the cottage and take the marked footpath track along the ridge between the old gravel workings. You will come to a part of the road where two roads run side by side. Take the left hand road, the grey one, by going through the white gate and you can pat yourself on the back as you look to the left and see how far you have come. The road will lead to the Middle Walk for your journey home.
Time and distance vary
Start from the Quay again. Turn right and keep as close to the river as possible. This will take you all the way along the waterfront. When you get to some big fishing boats on your left, turn right into Bath Street which is not sign-posted at the moment. The street got its name from Thomas Tumner who had his therapeutic salt water baths here in the eighteenth century and you were supposed to drink some as well!
At the end of Bath Street go left into West Street and continue until you come to a large area in front of the station, go straight through it and you will see the signpost for the start of the Wivenhoe Trail. This is a lovely walk to Essex University and eventually to Colchester Hythe where you can catch a bus back to Wivenhoe. The Wivenhoe Trail is also a cycle path, so watch out behind you if the wind is blowing in your face.
The best idea, if you only want a short walk, is to continue past the tunnel under the railway- I shall talk about that later and on the left as you come to the river there is a footpath indicated by a yellow sign. This will bring you round in a curve back to the station again. This is a bit of a problem at the moment; it is muddy in wet weather and is being built on. The builders have marked the footpath through their area and to save you worrying you can usually see the station buildings. While walking on this curve round the river you will see quite clearly by the concrete ramp and the track across the marsh, where the ferry went across the river to Rowhedge. The ferry was quite a small rowing boat often very overcrowded in the days before laws came out about such things.
If you want to try something different � and I think you will enjoy this � go through the dark, low gloomy brick tunnel under the railway line. You are now entering Wivenhoe Wood. You can wander about happily in here and the wood�s quite big. There is an upper dry path and a lower wiggly wet one. If you think you are lost don�t panic, take any down slope which will bring you back to the railway line. You can always work out where you are from here. If, and this doesn�t usually happen, you come out of the wood in the wrong place, go back in and down. If really stuck, walk along to the right and keep going. Leave the wood and before long you will reach a big road ( the High Street!). WARNING – Wivenhoe wood and the sea wall path, not the cycle track, can be very muddy especially in wet weather. Get out your walking boots!
Distance 5.5miles (or 7 miles) Time 3 hours
A long one this!
This can be started from various points around Wivenhoe but for simplicity’s sake I will start from The Quay. From The Quay start to walk up a short way up the High Street into the square and then turn right into East Street, between two shops. Continue in this direction and you will know all�s well if there is a large white house on your right. It is called Garrison House and the raised plaster work, pargetting. Continue past the fish and chip shop into Brook Street, the business centre will be on your left. Now you enter an unmade road, Anglesea Road. Walk for some distance following the track and after passing a farm on your right, don�t follow the road to your left but take the track in front of you across the fields.
When you reach the Wivenhoe to Alresford Road, go straight across and down another track, past farm buildings on the left (Sunnymead Farm) and continue in a straight line though a small wood with a stream and across a field with a narrow footpath. Now you enter a large wood � Cockaynes Wood. Sadly this wood, mentioned in the Domesday Book, is being excavated for sand and gravel and is only a third of the size it was twenty years ago. It�s all a great pity.
Now for the first time since leaving the Alresford Road, you will change direction after coming though the wood when the path turns left for a short while. When it ends turn right into the road and right again at the end of it. Cross the level crossing at Alresford Station and cross the main road at the end � careful � and into Church Road. If it is mid-day or evening, a short walk to the right at the main road will take you to the Pointer Pub where my mate Tom will be always glad to see you.
Continue down Church Road past the school on the left until you eventually come to a war memorial in the form of a cross. Go down the sign-posted track to the right of this and stop to look at the ruins of Alresford Church, burnt down, it was said at the time, after being used for witchcraft ceremonies one Saturday night in 1971. Carry on down this track, across a stream and up a steep slope to a sand ridge. When you reach this ridge, if you have done the walks in order you will know where you are. If not, turn right and walk on quite a long way. Be sure to take the smaller road on the left as I would hate you to be squashed by a sand lorry. You will pass Alresford Grange entrance on your left and eventually come to the main Alresford Road. Turn left, cross the railway bridge and you will know where you are now, if not, look at the Short Walk for your journey back.
If you are feeling really fit or having a lot of problems to solve, don�t take the track down by the ruined Church but carry on down the road to Alresford Creek � won�t that cottage in the dip look nice once it�s done up? When you get to Alresford Creek, right along the footpath, right at the end of there and there�s a nice long walk back to Wivenhoe. Yes, it�s part of the Long Walk isn�t it?
Distance 3 miles Time 1 Hour
This can be a round walk of thirty minutes. Note � These walks can be rather muddy after rain.
This could be just a straight walk to Thorrington Tide Mill but I have included a short round walk as an alternative. They are both very beautiful. There used to be much better walks in this area but they are now gravel pits.
Let�s start with the round walk first. Leave your car at Alresford Creek but make sure it is above the tide line. Go back up the hill until you come to the second cottage on your left. Don�t worry about the hill, it�s not far! Take the footpath on your right and relax, you can�t go wrong and there are some lovely views � that�s Brightlingsea All Saints church over there, I shall write about it later. Them ‘owd hosses’ use the track so it might be a little churned up. Go below the wood until you reach the sandy lane. Turn right and go down it but watch out for lorries on weekdays. At the bottom, the lane turns left towards a farm, you want the small diagonal path off to the right which comes just after an arch of red and white poles. Go along the footpath behind the hedge which will take you back to Alresford Creek and your car. Haven�t they done that house up well?
If you turn left at the end of the diagonal path � don�t take the sandy lane but the footpath beside the creek which is quite easy to find � you will eventually get to Thorrington Tide Mill. Can you see the old dock by the farm? I wonder what that was used for all those years ago. As you walk towards the Mill, you will have the choice of either taking the straight line easier path or the one alongside the creek. The creek one is more attractive but a bit rough so you will spend a lot of time looking at your feet. As you will probably be returning the same way, leave the one you don�t do until the way back.
When you reach the gravel road which runs past the Tide Mill, turn right for a look at the Mill before returning. The Tide Mill is interesting as there are few left in this country. The area to the left is filled each high tide and then, as the tide receded, it was allowed to flow out under the mill wheel, turning the wheel as it did so. A cheap source of power refilled twice a day. From here you may climb the steep gravel track in front of you. Please keep to the path as the buildings are privately owned. From the top of the hill a bus may be caught back to Alresford or Wivenhoe. The alternative is to turn back to Alresford Creek and to choose the creek path or the hedgerow line again.
It’s rather a shame but you can�t get easily to the Church you can see all the time unless you go by car. Brightlingsea Old Church the locals call it, there is a new one in the town. The inhabitants left this one after the Black Death. It is very beautiful and the good news is at the time of writing they are making a cycle and foot path so you can get to it if you go down the hill on your right.
People have often asked me if it is possible to cross the Roman ford at Alresford Creek. The simple answer is �yes� BUT it can only be done at low tide, wear wellies and above all KEEP WALKING. If you don�t you will end up doing an interesting version of the Highland Fling on one leg until you fall over. We used to visit my old mother in Brightlingsea, with our wellies in a bag, during the winter this way. Once across, there are some very pleasant walks to Brightlingsea. Either to the right and along the sea wall which once was a railway line, or straight ahead, eventually arriving at the Old Church, or Brightlingsea All Saints to give its proper name. You will be able to see the Church most of the time on your walk. From here a regular bus service will take you back to Alresford or Wivenhoe.
Paul Brown, December, 2002