Upper Roach Valley
A circular walk including Hockley Woods
Spring or summer
Early flowers in the woods; songbirds in woods and hedgerows; wild flowers, butterflies and other flying insects in summer
Paths across arable fields may be ploughed after harvest; muddy paths in wet weather.
Park at Edwards Hall Park (point A) or Grove Woods (B), or bus along Rayleigh Road and walk up Bosworth Road to Edwards Hall Park.
Undulating terrain, mostly on well-defined unsurfaced paths, plus a short section on quiet residential roads.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Edwards Hall Park to Grove Woods
Walk into Edwards Hall Park head across the lefthand meadow towards the far corner. Go through the gap in the hedgerow and out on to a footpath that runs along the verge of the field. A short way before the field ends, take a footpath on the left over a plank bridge. Follow it between angling lakes on the left and a hedgerow, and out on to Hillside Road. You are now in an area of former plotlands. Cross Rayleigh Avenue into Disraeli Road and soon you plunge into woods that have taken over some of the abandoned plots. Bear right past Hywood House and deeper into woods, mainly of oak. Turn left at the fringe of the woods with open country visible through the trees and follow the path through and across Connaught Road until you reach the recreation ground with its car park.
Stage BC: Grove Woods to Hockley Woods
Walk up the righthand edge of the recreation ground, cross the ditch on a plank bridge and walk through a patch of trees to cross a footbridge across the Roach. Follow the footpath between a hedge on the left and the fencing of a sewage works on the right, turning right at the corner to head for Rawreth Hall Wood. Turn left after entry and follow the footpath up to the far lefthand (NW) corner, where you come out into a meadow. Walk across the meadow, continuing as it narrows, then go right and left through hedgerow gaps and follow an ancient hedgerow on your left up towards the broad expanse of Hockley Woods ahead.
Stage CD: Hockley Woods
The quick way through Hockley Woods is to turn right as soon as you reach the woodland and follow the footpath all the way along the southern edge until it swings right and out into an arable field. If you want to see more, take a detour further in, going straight on after entry then turning right and right again at major intersections. On rejoining the southern path, turn left to follow it.
Stage DE: Hockley Woods to The Scrubs
On exit from Hockley Woods the path follows a grassy track, at first beside another ancient hedgerow then swinging out across the arable field beside a file of oak trees, with views down the Roach valley opening out before you. It heads for Gusted Hall Wood, passing below it, then rounds Gusted Hall and joins its access road, which runs across to meet Gusted Hall Lane just north of another ancient woodland, known as The Scrubs.
Stage EF: The Scrubs
Turn right into The Scrubs, and follow the path down through the wood until you come to the footbridge across the Roach. From here detour into Cherry Orchard Jubilee CP across the bridge on the left?
Stage FA: Return from The Scrubs
Go straight ahead down the byway, which soon joins the bridleway across Cherry Orchard Jubilee CP. Turn right at the junction and follow the bridleway between hedges until it joins Flemings Farm Road. Just beyond the bend in Flemings Farm Road gaps in the hedge on the right allow you into Edwards Hall Park. Follow one of the paths diagonally across the grassland with its many wild flowers. After you pass through the tall hedgerow, you will be able to see the entrance road and car park across the next field.