Roydon to Harlow
Along the Stort through meadows and marsh
Late spring or summer (before the hay cut in July)
Wild flowers in the ancient meadows; songbirds in copses and hedgerows.
Noise from the busy A414 and the railway.
Train from Stratford or Liverpool St to Roydon, returning from Harlow Town, or park at Roydon station
Flat terrain, apart from the climb across the high footbridge on the way back; mostly well-defined footpaths, some sections surfaced; a short road walk back to Harlow Town station.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Roydon station to Hunsdon Mead
After coming out of the station cross the railway at the level crossing and turn immediately left to follow the towpath beside the canal. You soon pass under the railway bridge, then later cross a footbridge over the original River Stort, just before Roydon Lock, after which you turn left to continue along the towpath. About 400m further on you come to a kissing gate on the left that gives access to Hunsdon Mead nature reserve. Go through it and follow the path straight across the meadow then on through a hedgerow towards another gate, before which you turn right to follow a footpath beside the original River Stort. This continues along the edge of the meadow and eventually curves back to rejoin the towpath.
Stage BC: Hunsdon Mead to Parndon Moat Marsh
Turn left to follow the towpath, which shortly crosses a bridge to the other side, and continue past Hunsdon Lock and through a wooded section, then through open meadows with the A414 visible (and probably audible!) over the canal on the left. The canal then bends right under power lines back towards the railway, heading towards Parndon Mill visible ahead. At Parndon Mill, cross a footbridge to the other side and continue past Parndon Mill Lock and about 200m on, to the next footbridge over the canal.
Stage CD: Parndon Moat Marsh to Harlow Town Park
To visit Parndon Moat Marsh, cross over the next footbridge and turn left beyond it. (To avoid it and save a bit of time continue straight on along the towpath.) In Parndon Moat Marsh the path runs between the canal and a former moat, then veers right on to a boardwalk across fen, then slopes up to drier ground and scrub. Climb steps up to the A414 road (Allende Avenue), then turn left and walk 100m down to the bridge over the canal, turning left down the bank immediately beyond it to rejoin the towpath, turning left again to follow it under the bridge. Continue up to the next bridge, Burnt Mill Lane, and turn right across it and left immediately beyond it on to the towpath past Burnt Mill Lock and round the bend into Harlow Town Park. Continue on the surfaced path beside the canal until you come to a turning on the right leading towards a concrete footbridge high over the railway. Here you have the choice of continuing up the canal for the full walk or turning right to point F for a shortcut to Harlow Town station.
Stage DE: Harlow Town Park to Latton Lock
Continue along the towpath until you come to a footbridge on your left across the canal. Cross it and turn right to follow the towpath on the other side. You can follow the towpath all the way to Latton Lock or, if you prefer, turn off half-left 100m down on to a public footpath across the meadow, turning right on to a footpath back to the canal just before you reach the other side of the meadow. Either way you end up at Latton Lock.
Stage EF: Latton Lock back to Harlow Town Park
Walk on past Latton Lock until you come to a footbridge across the canal. Cross it and follow the path across another footbridge over the river, turning right beyond it on to a footpath. Follow this beside the river and past the weir to where the river rejoins the canal, then along beside the canal with industrial buildings on your left all the way, until you come into Maymeads Marsh. Bear left here away from the canal and follow the mown grass path along the edge of a wetland on the left, with the railway beyond it, and with hay meadows on your right, until you come to the elevated concrete footbridge you passed earlier, going the other way.
Stage FG: Harlow Town Park to Harlow Town station
Cross the footbridge and follow the footpath straight ahead past Marshgate Springs on your left and up to the A414 road (Edinburgh Way). Bear right up to the road and walk beside it past the Pearson Education building up to the roundabout. Turn right here down to the car park, then walk diagonally left across the car park to Harlow Town station.