Circular walk from Ramsey via Hamford Water
Autumn or winter
Overwintering birds on foreshore, saltmarsh or flooded fields.
Some paths cross arable fields that may be ploughed; the seawall path is very exposed – check the forecast and take enough clothing.
Park near Castle Inn, Ramsey (point A), or walk out from Harwich along the Essex Way, joining the circuit at D.
Largely flat terrain except for steep slopes up to the seawall; well-defined footpaths and farm tracks, mostly unsurfaced; short sections along roads.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Ramsey to Rectory Road
In Ramsey, walk down Main Road to the roundabout on the A120 and walk just over half-way round it to Rectory Lane, a former Green Lane now a bridleway and paved track. Follow it to where the path splits and turn right to a footbridge across the stream. Cross the meadow and turn left on the footpath that runs alongside the hedgerow opposite. Follow it across three meadows, converging on the stream running down the valley on your left, then follow the stream until you come out on Rectory Road.
Stage BC: Rectory Road to seawall
Turn left to follow Rectory Road for 50m to a waymarker on the right pointing across an arable field to a footbridge in the hedgerow opposite. After the footbridge follow a grass track with a ditch and gappy hedge on your left. At the end of the field you meet a footpath along a grass track: turn left to follow it until you come to St Mary's House, turning right down its access track to Clacton Road. Turn left and follow the road for 150m until you come to a concrete track leaving on the right opposite Little Oakley Hall, signposted as a bridleway. Follow the track straight down then round to the left and up on to the seawall, where you turn left to follow the footpath eastwards towards Harwich.
Stage CD: Seawall path
Follow the seawall footpath into the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve, with a huge expanse of saltmarsh on your right and, on your left at the foot of the bank, the borrowdyke with arable fields beyond it. As you continue, with the cranes of Harwich Docks visible ahead, the saltmarsh gives way to a shingle ridge then beyond it the sand and mudflats of Irlam's Beach. Some way along Irlam's Beach, the seawall path veers left inland with another expanse of seawall on your right. Follow it for about 700m to where it bends to the right.
Stage DE: Essex Way to Harwich Road
At the bend, follow the path straight on that runs down the bank and continues as a grass track beside an arable field with a ditch and rough grassy area on your right. You are now on the Essex Way. The footpath runs briefly across arable land, then continues as a grass track with a hedge and then a ditch on your left. Turn left where you meet a farm track, then after 100m turn right on a loose surfaced track with a hedge on your right. After 500m the path bears left between fences and soon meets Harwich Road (B1414).
Stage EA: Essex Way back to Ramsey
Turn left on to Harwich Road then very shortly off right on a track signposted Recycling Point. Beyond the Recycling Point you join a grass track beside an arable field. After 150m turn right across the field, then, about as far on again, go half-right across a footbridge and continue across a pasture with a gappy hedge on your left. Just past a pond you cross another pasture heading towards a small wood on your right. At the end of this wood turn right to follow the path out on to Church Hill, turning left down to the A120 roundabout then following Main Road back to the Castle Inn.