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Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods

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Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods
Author: Steve Hallam, Published: 08 May 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide star1 Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide star1 Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide star0 Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide star0 Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide
Essex, Coggeshall
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide
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0003_white_cloud Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide Today's weather
6 °C, Cloudy, Wind: 12 mph WSW
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0010_heavy_rain_showers Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide 0018_cloudy_with_heavy_rain Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide 0009_light_rain_showers Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide 0010_heavy_rain_showers Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide 0003_white_cloud Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods Walking Guide

This seven mile circular walk explores a part of Essex that is unusually densely wooded. It uses quiet country roads, tracks and footpaths to go though a mixture of farmland, mature oak and beech woods, coppice and parkland. There is one stretch around the perimeter of an airfield that is decidedly non-rural. The walk starts near Coggeshall, 9 miles west of Colchester and 5.5 miles east of Braintree. I would say that this is a pleasant walk if you are already in the area, perhaps visiting a local attraction. But I would not travel a distance just for this walk.

The walking is easy-going and on the flat. There is just one short section where tractors have badly rutted a track that clearly can get very wet, but there is an avoiding path through the adjacent coppice. There are no stiles or livestock on the route, so it is a good route for dogs, even for ones who love to crash excitedly about (go, springer spaniels!). 1.8 miles of the route is on quiet public lanes, while 500 metres is along an access road to an industrial estate (but it has wide verges). It should take about 3.5 hours.

The walk starts and ends in the free car park of the privately owned Marks Hall estate, CO6 1TG, accessed off the B1024. The car park is open from 10am to 6pm. If you wish to walk either side of these times, there is roadside parking available at the junction of Marks Hall Road and the lane signposted to The Old Rectory, 900 metres before the car park (this spot is on the walking route and the directions reference this alternative parking spot.)
Coggeshall is served by the First bus route 70, between Chelmsford and Colchester. This stops on Colne Road, near to the junction between the A120 and the B1024. From here it is a 0.8 miles walk to where you can pick this walk up.

Walk Sections

Start to Five Bar Gate
Start to Five Bar Gate

Start point: 51.8941 lat, 0.6725 long
End point: 51.8845 lat, 0.6791 long

From the car park, walk out of the car entrance (not the exit) and back up the approach road. Follow this, past the white gates that mark the estate boundary, for 0.6 miles. Turn right, down the tarmac lane signposted to The Old Rectory. (This is the alternative parking spot, and also where you pick up the route if you have walked from the bus stop.)

Walk down this lane and past the impressive spread, with its white railings, that once housed vicars (not anymore, I'll warrant). The lane becomes a track, and then a path leading to a gap on the left side of a wooden five-bar gate.

Five Bar Gate to Tarmac Lane
Five Bar Gate to Tarmac Lane

Start point: 51.8845 lat, 0.6791 long
End point: 51.8923 lat, 0.6571 long

Go through the gap and bear left, to follow the narrow path down the left side of a wooden fence and garden hedge. At the end of the hedge you come to a path T-junction. Turn right to follow the next side of the garden boundary. Cross the wooden footbridge over the stream and go straight on, ignoring the path that goes off right by the stream. (Although the way is straight on, immediately in front is a very wet boggy patch, so the path goes round this to the left.) Walk ahead up the access drive (this serves the house you can see on your right). Follow the track to the right of a farm and large farm house, to come out on a lane, Ambridge Road.

Turn right, and keep straight on where a branch of lane goes left. The lane becomes unpaved and goes past a traffic sign and metal barrier, to stop cars and motorbikes between the months of September and March. Follow this track through mature woodland and coppice for about a mile, until you come out on to a tarmac lane.

Tarmac Lane to Footpath
Tarmac Lane to Footpath

Start point: 51.8923 lat, 0.6571 long
End point: 51.9119 lat, 0.6577 long

Turn right to walk down this very quiet dead-end lane. Walk past the various attractive houses, ignoring paths that go off to the left and right. The lane becomes a track and dives into woodland, past another sign and barrier preventing motors between September and March. After a while you pass a timber yard, set back on the left, after which the track has been concreted.

You come to a junction of tracks where the concrete turns right, and you turn left. This track becomes muddy and, later on, deeply rutted. This stretch obviously can get very wet, and walkers have created an avoiding path alongside the left side of the track, through the coppice stools.

The track emerges to a junction with a sharp bend in a tarmac lane. Walk ahead to join this lane, (the right-hand branch of the lane, so not left!). Follow the lane through a hamlet of generally attractive houses (Burton's Green). Just beyond the last house a footpath goes off on the left, which you ignore, closely followed by one on the right. Which you take.

Footpath to Air Ambulance Base
Footpath to Air Ambulance Base

Start point: 51.9119 lat, 0.6577 long
End point: 51.9107 lat, 0.6757 long

Follow this path as it runs down a field boundary, and then a wood, on your right-hand side. At the end of the field, swing left for a few yards, before turning back right to go through a gap in the hedge and across the next field (there is a yellow arrow on a post to show the way). Follow the visible path straight across this field towards a farm that becomes visible once you are over a slight ridge.

When you reach the bank in front of the farm buildings, turn left and walk to the field boundary hedge. Here you turn right, to walk down the side of the hedge. You will see a path becoming more visible in front of you, which keeps straight on, into bushes, as the open grassy area swings to the right. The path comes out on a tarmac lane, on to which you turn right.

Follow the road until you see, on the right, a pair of large white barrier gates and, beyond them, a wider road. This is an access road to an industrial estate, built on a WWII airfield. Turn right to walk down this access road (there is a wide, mown verge on the far side). The access road swings to the left, and reveals that a flying club and air ambulance base have been lurking on the other side of the conifer hedge. Perhaps not the greatest spot for lovers of rural scenery, but arguably the best location on my walks for plane spotters.

When you have walked round the left-hand bend in the road (across the end of the runway) and are standing opposite the Air Ambulance depot building, you will see a sign for a Permissive footpath. Turn right here, to leave the road and walk down the grass on the right-hand side of the trees.

Air Ambulance Base to End
Air Ambulance Base to End

Start point: 51.9107 lat, 0.6757 long
End point: 51.8944 lat, 0.6726 long

The path continues down the side of the trees until the end of the grassy area, where it swings left to pass through a gap between trees. You will emerge into a second grass area (I'm not sure that it qualifies to be a 'field'). Cross this grass and, at the far end, follow the path which swings to the right to reach a T-junction with a concreted path. Turn left on to this.

After 400 metres, turn right onto a path through a gap in a timber fence. This gap is guarded by two large trunks, to prevent access by vehicles, and is indicated by a yellow arrow on a post.

The path runs down an impressive avenue, formed by two rows of trees. On the right side is a high deer fence, and beyond this the attractively landscaped gardens of Marks Hall. Part way along, the path becomes tarmac. At the end, it swings to the left to run through the estate buildings of Marks Hall. It carries straight on, past these.

220 metres further on, a track goes off to the right, signposted by a wooden Public Footpath fingerpost. Here you have two choices.

If you have parked on the roadside (by the junction with the lane to The Old Rectory), carry straight on here. The lane joins the one to the car park, and you carry on to reach your car. (This is also the way back to the bus.)

Alternatively, if you have parked in the Marks Hall car park, turn right to take the path that runs on the left side of a hedge. Cross the attractive bridge over the water, and then turn left by the ticket booth for the gardens to return to the car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author SteveHallam and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 Comments for: "Marks Hall and Bunsgate Woods"

A nice walk, pretty level ground, was muddy in a few places. Most of the walk is on paved road, with a couple of detours into fields. Interesting when planes drive across the road by the air ambulance.

By pwarren on 15 Oct 2017

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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