A wee wander, Bourne Mill circular walk, Colchester, Essex

Walking trail

When Bourne Mill was a fulling mill, in order to wash oils out of the cloth, urine was used in the fulling process. This may well have come from the local inns. This circular three-mile walk takes you through some of Colchester's country nooks, visiting the River Colne, Bourne Valley, Cannock Mill, Distillery Pond and Almshouses in Winsley Square, before visiting the streets and pubs that were built in the mid to late 19th century.

Bourne Mill's history

Bourne Mill is situated on a large artificial embankment which was built to create the mill pond to the west. Although first recorded in 1311 as a mill, it is believed that the bank dates from 1096 when a group of Benedictine monks dammed Bourne Brook. The building you see now was built as a fishing lodge in 1591 by Thomas Lucas. The building was converted into a fulling mill in the middle of the 17th century. By the end of the 18th century Bourne Mill was producing Bay clothe and had the facilities to grind wheat into flour. When the main building was converted into a corn mill, it necessitated the insertion of an upper floor, a sack hoist and the cutting of additional doorways in the walls. In the earlier 19th century it was a cloth mill for fulling and finishing bays. After 1835, the mill concentrated solely on grinding corn. It worked until 1935 and was given to the National Trust in 1936.


Bourne Mill a Wee Wander trail map v4


Bourne Mill car park TM 00565 23846


Starting from the Bourne Mill entrance, turn right and look for a footpath which goes down between buildings about 20 metres away.


Follow this footpath and take the path to the left which goes along a boardwalk next to the River Colne.


This path is known locally as the Bourne Valley; you will pass some ponds, so stop to look at the birdlife for a moment; there is a lot going on.

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Picture of a pond on the Bourne Mill a Wee Wander walk


Continue along this path towards Old Heath Road, and as you reach Old Heath Road you will notice Cannock Mill on your right. Turn right, and cross the road immediately (opposite Cannock Mill House). Continue along the river on Distillery Lane.

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The front of Cannock Mill with its distinctive classic white weather-boarding.


Continuing along the track until you reach the Distillery Ponds, again stop and watch the wildlife in the calm of the Mill pond. Hull Mill is at the end of the Pond; this was later the Distillery and is now rather attractive living accommodation. Pass in front of the building and follow the path round to the right. After about 50m you will see a yellow finger post signalling a footpath which goes up to the left.

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Picture of Distillery Pond near Bourne Mill with Hull Mill in the distance


Take this footpath to the left. This is quite a narrow footpath, and has a gradual incline. Continuing, pass ‘Grants Meadow Allotments’ on your right. When reaching the top of the rise, you will reach the end of Recreation Road, (adjoining Smith’s Field). Turn left into Recreation Road, and follow it until you meet Old Heath Road.


When reaching Old Heath Road, directly opposite is Winsley Square, a group of Almshouses, all of which have been ‘gifted’ and each house indicates from where. It is worth taking a few minutes to wander around.

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Picture of Winsley's Almshouses off Old Heath road, Colchester, a charity established in 1726.


When coming back out onto Old Heath Road, turn left and follow the road towards Colchester. Pass a playground and park on your right on Old Heath Road; continuing past the Bourne Road/Wimpole Road crossroads, the road now becomes Military Road; keep going until you reach the first wee stop – the Royal Mortar, at No. 120 Military road.

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Continue along Military Road to wee stop 2, which is the British Grenadier at no.67.

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The British Grenadier Pub at no.67 Military road, Colchester


From the British Grenadier continue along the road until turning into Roberts Road on your left. Take the first footpath on your right into Parade Square; turn left into the square and then right along Sargeant Street. Follow Sargeant Street round to the the left and follow it all the way to the end, and continuing straight ahead along a footpath through to the Mersea Road. At Mersea Road, turn right and walk 100 metres to Lucas road on the right, and wee stop 3 the 'Odd One Out' at 28 Mersea road.

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The Odd one Out or the Oddie in earlier days as the Mermaid


From the Oddie, turn round and walk back along Mersea Road for 200m until you reach Berechurch road, 2nd turning on your right. Follow Berechurch road until you reach the junction with Meyrick Crescent and Wee Stop number 4 nestles in the junction.

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The Britannia, at Meyrick Crescent in Colchester


Leaving the Britannia on your left, continue along Meyrick Crescent. Turn right when you reach Mersea Road and next wee stop 5 is the Grapes on the left at 87 Mersea road.

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The Grapes at 87 Mersea Road, Colchester


On leaving the Grapes, continue along Mersea Road; pass Bourne Road on your left and then cross over, and where the road bears to the right, go through a gap on the left onto a footpath and follow the path along the south side of Bourne Mill ponds. Turn left and follow the path up to Stalin Road continuing round the road until you meet a footpath which goes down Bourne Valley to meet the footpath where you started. End at Bourne Mill entrance.

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View across Bourne Mill ponds from the south


Bourne Mill car park TM 00565 23846

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A wee wander, Bourne Mill circular walk, Colchester, Essex


Some paths, which may be muddy after wet weather. Town pavements. Suitable for pushchairs.

A wee wander, Bourne Mill circular walk, Colchester, Essex

Contact us

A wee wander, Bourne Mill circular walk, Colchester, Essex

How to get here

Bourne Mill, Bourne Road, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8RT
By train

Colchester (1.84 miles away), Colchester Town (0.73 miles) or Hythe (0.88 miles). The 66 bus runs from Colchester Station to Old Heath.

By road

1 mile south of centre of Colchester, on Bourne Road, off Mersea Road (B1025)

By bus

Bus Numbers 66/66A go from the town centre to Old Heath Road

By bicycle

Cycle routes available here:


A wee wander, Bourne Mill circular walk, Colchester, Essex

Facilities and access

  • Parking: Small car park