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Writtle Forest

Short and long walks starting from Mill Green

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Walk summary

Summer or autumn

The wild ancient woodland of Writtle Forest; wild flowers on Mill Green Common and along some of the rides and bridleways.

One section (BC) crosses arable fields that may be ploughed; muddy paths in wet weather; perhaps an electric fence on the short circuit.

Park on Mill Green Common (entrance just north of the Cricketers PH).

Longer walk (ABCDEFA) 2½–3 hours; short walk (ABGA) 1½–2 hours.

Fairly flat terrain, partly on unsurfaced footpaths and partly on surfaced bridleways; some stiles around Mill Green and Box Wood; short sections on quiet roads.

Click on a marker on the map for route details

Stage AB: Hardings Lane to Richards Cottage

30 mins

From the car park on Mill Green Common, walk back past the Cricketers PH and turn left into Hardings Lane. Turn left over the stile where the houses end, and walk on with a hedge and then woods on your left. Another stile takes you into a meadow: walk round it with the hedge on your left to another stile into a pasture. Go straight ahead with the hedge on your right, cross a track and you enter Mill Green Common, here wooded and pockmarked by pits and depressions. Turn right out of the woodland at a waymarker and right again on to the road briefly, until you see the footpath straight on past a cottage as the road swings right. (Turn left here for a stop at The Viper PH.)

Stage BC: Richards Cottage to Ellis Wood

30 mins

After a barrier, the path forks. Take the left fork which runs through pastures with Box Wood, a former hornbeam coppice wood, on the right. After the third stile you enter an arable field, and the path forks again. Take the left fork which runs in a grassy track across the centre of the field. Approaching a farmhouse, the path passes to its left. Turn right at the road looking for a footpath on the left about 50m down. This crosses a meadow heading for a small wood down in the dip, which it passes to the left of then heads for the centre of an expanse of woodland across the arable field. This is Ellis Wood, which you enter via a plank bridge.

Stage BG: Box Wood to Handley Barns

25 mins

Go straight on past the barrier into Box Wood, ignoring the path that forks left. Follow the path straight through the wood to a stile that leads into a meadow, then across the meadow towards a small wood opposite. Bear right as you reach that wood and head for the corner of the meadow. (The footpath runs close to the hedgerow, but you may meet electric fencing that keeps you away from it.) Go over the stile at the corner and follow the path over another stile into a further meadow, ignoring the footpath that joins from the right. The footpath follows the lefthand edge of this meadow past Handley Barns farm.

Stage CD: Ellis Wood

25 mins

Follow the footpath along the ride cleared through the middle of Ellis Wood, a private wood managed now for shooting. On leaving the wood you join a bridleway, then bear left on to Cock Lane, which meets Ingatestone Road 200m on.

Stage DE: Metsons Lane and Parsons Spring

35 mins

Turn left down Ingatestone Road and 50m down turn right into Metsons Lane, initially the stock yard for Oddy's fencing. After an angling lake on the left it looks more like the Green Lane that it used to be, with the woodland of Barrow Spring on the left and woodbanks (or the remains of them) on either side. Passing Barrow Farm Riding School for the Disabled, you reach Blackmore Road. Go straight across and follow the bridleway opposite into Parsons Spring. Shortly after arable fields appear on the right you meet another (paved) bridleway at an angle and turn sharp left to follow it back into the wood. Before long you are back at Blackmore Road. (In fact if you wanted to cut the walk short you could have followed the road straight here and saved 15 minutes.)

Stage EF: Birch Spring

20 mins

Cross Blackmore Road and follow the bridleway into Birch Spring, the paving now replaced by a loose surface. Follow it all the way through the wood until the trees open out in front of you and you meet Mapletree Lane, an old green lane that comes in from the right and continues straight on ahead of you.

Stage FA: Mapletree Lane

25 mins

Follow Mapletree Lane, at first with open pastures on both sides but then Stoneymoor Wood on the left. St Peter's Way joins from the left, then the bridleway swings left and an opening on the right takes you back into Mill Green Common, here open grassland with heather. Cross to the car park and road opposite.

Stage GA: Handley Barns to Mill Green

45 mins

Passing Handley Barns, go over two stiles and a footbridge into another meadow and turn right alongside a hedgerow containing some massive old oak trees. At the end of the meadow turn right over a stile then shortly left over another, to follow the hedgerow on your left, which soon merges into a small wood. Turn right at the corner of the wood and beyond it bear left to follow the hedgerow on your right. Bear right through a gap in the hedgerow and follow the hedge on your left all the way round past a lake then over a stile on to a track. Turn left and follow Hardings Lane back to Mill Lane, with The Cricketers PH and Mill Green Common up on the right.