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Castle Hedingham

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Castle Hedingham
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 05 Jul 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guidestar1 Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guidestar1 Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guidestar1 Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guidestar0 Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guide
Essex, Halstead
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Castle Hedingham
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Castle Hedingham Essex Walking Guide
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A 4 mile circular walk from the idyllic medieval village of Castle Hedingham in Essex. The route follows a loop north into the surrounding arable farmland and you will also have the opportunity to visit the namesake Norman Castle should you wish (limited opening times and entrance fees apply).

The route is relatively flat with just a few gentle gradients. There are no stiles and just a couple of gates within the church yard. The paths are a mixture of wide stone tracks with a few narrow field paths, the latter of which can be quite muddy. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours (longer if you wish to explore the castle).

Castle Hedingham is in north east Essex, about 4 miles north-west of Halstead. The walk starts from St Nicholas’ Church in the centre of Castle Hedingham. There is roadside parking available in the village including marked bays along the main B1058 St James’ Street. Approximate post code CO9 3EJ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Castle Entrance
Start to Castle Entrance

Start point: 51.9906 lat, 0.5976 long
End point: 51.9911 lat, 0.6004 long

Start the walk by making your way into the grounds of St Nicholas’ Church. Work on this late Norman Gothic church began in 1180 and it still retains many of its Norman features including three original Norman doors. The iron work on the doors is very well preserved and on the south door there is an iron boar – one of the emblems of the de Vere family (more to come on the de Vere’s later...). The east window is thought to be one of only five surviving Norman wheel windows in the country. The church roof design is attributed to Thomas Loveday, who is best known for his work on St John’s College in Cambridge.

Leave the church via the small gate onto Church Ponds road (you’ll emerge opposite house number 28) and turn right to walk along the small residential lane with the church to the right. You will emerge out into Falcon Square where you’ll have chance to enjoy an array of medieval properties. You may see a star with straight-sided rays (known as a mullet within heraldry) carved into some buildings – another emblem of the de Vere family.

Keep ahead through the square and then turn immediately left into Castle Lane. The castle tower will now be visible over the trees ahead. At the top of the lane, cross over Bailey Street to reach the entrance to Hedingham Castle.

Take time to visit the castle and its grounds should you wish – limited opening times and entrance fees apply. The Norman Keep at Hedingham Castle is the best preserved in England. It was built in 1140 by Aubrey de Vere II, the first Lord Great Chamberlain of England. Aubrey’s father was the brother-in-law of William the Conqueror. He was granted the lordship of Hedingham where descendants of the family still live today. The family was always loyal to their Kings, fighting in many wars including the Crusades, Crecy, and the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Castle Entrance to Yeoman's Cottage
Castle Entrance to Yeoman's Cottage

Start point: 51.9911 lat, 0.6004 long
End point: 51.9969 lat, 0.6024 long

From the entrance, turn right along the pavement with the grounds on the left and continue until you reach the T-junction. Turn left (signed Great Maplestead). Pass New Park Road to the right and just a few paces later turn left through a staggered barrier onto a narrow public footpath.

Follow the enclosed path, which soon becomes an open path along the edge of an arable field, until you emerge to a T-junction with a track. Rosemary Farm will be opposite. Turn left along the track, keeping left on the main track at a minor fork. At the next major fork, keep left again signed as Rosemary Lane.

Pass by Rushley Green on the right and then the pretty thatched Keeper’s Cottage on the left. Soon after, you’ll come to Yeoman’s Cottage on the right.

Yeoman's Cottage to Brick Tower
Yeoman's Cottage to Brick Tower

Start point: 51.9969 lat, 0.6024 long
End point: 52.0081 lat, 0.596 long

Ignore the kissing gate to the left here – but you may wish to enjoy the views from this point. Keep ahead on the main tarmac lane. Pass the Rushley Green barn conversions on the left and follow the main track as it swings hard right.

Follow the track as it strikes out between crop fields and continue as the track winds around Lippingwell’s Farm. The track continues between more fields to pass Newhouse Farm on the left with a pond alongside. Continue a little distance further until you reach the two-storey brick tower which sits alongside Hewson’s Farm.

Brick Tower to Kirby Hall Farm
Brick Tower to Kirby Hall Farm

Start point: 52.0081 lat, 0.596 long
End point: 52.0053 lat, 0.5885 long

Turn left here onto the signed footpath between crop fields. This path will lead you to the end of a line of trees where you’ll see a waymark post. Turn right here and follow this path which passes through the centre of the crop field. If the field is planted, you’ll have a chance to really appreciate the scale of modern arable farming, with single crops running as far as the eye can see.

At the edge of the field keep ahead on the concrete sleeper track until you reach the crossroads within Kirby Hall Farm.

Kirby Hall Farm to End
Kirby Hall Farm to End

Start point: 52.0053 lat, 0.5885 long
End point: 51.9907 lat, 0.5972 long

Turn left along the main tarmac drive. Keep ahead and then, where the lane bends right with a white property on the left, go straight ahead onto the signed public footpath, a track between crop fields. The tower of Hedingham Castle soon comes into view ahead. As you reach a line of trees running away from you, bear slightly right to follow the field edge footpath following the line of trees on the left.

Eventually, at the end of the hedgerow on your left, you’ll come to a crossroads of paths with the corner of a woodland copse to the left. Turn right here to follow the field edge path heading gradually downhill. If you look over to the right within the distant trees, you may be able to see the station for the Colne Valley heritage steam railway.

The path emerges to a T-junction with the village road. Turn left, passing de Vere Primary School on the left. At the T-junction turn left along the residential road and, as you reach Pye Corner, turn right into Crown Street. At the junction, turn left into Church Ponds where you’ll find the church on the right where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Castle Hedingham"

Enjoyable, easy and well-marked walk with some lovely wide vistas over arable land and some spectacular old oak trees en route.

By timperleyear on 2016-08-21 20:38:08

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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