Hatfield Forest, Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex

Walking trail

This circular walk with the National Trust, starts from the old station at Takeley, treks across country to ancient Wall Wood, continues into and across the forest, and then back along the old Bishop's Stortford to Braintree railway line (Flitch way), finishing at the old station. See St.John the Evangelist church, Woodside Green, Stane Street Halt and site of The Hatfield Forest ‘Doodle Oak’. During the winter months you will have to book your parking for weekends and school holidays.

Explore ancient Hatfield Forest and Wall Wood on this 9.5 mile walk. Great for active families. Some road walking - watch out for traffic. The forest trails become very muddy in winter, so this route is best enjoyed in the summer months. We may also need to close off some parts of this trail, even in summer, to allow the ground to recover. If so, an alternative route will be provided.


Map route for Hatfield Takeley to Wall Wood walk


Takeley old Station House TL562211


Starting from Takeley Old Station House, access Flitch Way from behind the building. Turn right and walk under the railway bridge. Continue for about a ¼ mile (400m) until you reach Forest Way footpath. Turn left and follow the path downhill. After about 10 minutes, cross a field boundary and continue downhill. In 10 more minutes, you'll reach another field boundary and enter a wood. Cross a footbridge, go slightly uphill and turn left out of the wood. Follow the path down the field towards a stile.

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Picture of Takeley Station how it was in the 1950's


Cross the stile and head diagonally to the left, to the far corner of the field, to another stile. Cross the stile onto a small lane. After the stile, turn right and follow the lane downhill over a road culvert and then uphill until you reach a T-junction with the Takeley Street to Hatfield Broad Oak Road. Turn right and visit the church of St John the Evangelist on the right.

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St. John the Evangelist at Bush End near Hatfield Forest


After visiting the church, turn left out of the gate and re-trace your steps, turning left again and heading back down the lane until reaching the stile with a green on your right. Follow footpath signs across the green and cross a small footbridge into the field. The path heads across the field (which may be muddy or have growing crops). Alternatively, turn right and walk round the field boundary and re-join the path going into the next field. Follow this path downhill through another field boundary until reaching a made-up path. Turn right and, passing Pincey Cottage on your right, re-join the Takeley Street to Hatfield Broad Oak road. Turn left and follow the road for 200-300yd (180-270m) round Z-bends. Be careful, this road can be busy.


On the right, you will find the Doodle Oak entrance to Hatfield Forest. Enter the forest and turn slightly left. Heading along the open ride, keeping the tree line to your left, keep going until reaching an exit gate on to the road. Exit the forest, turn right and follow the road until reaching the Wall Wood entrance on the left. Enter the wood and head straight ahead on the path. At the end of the path you are free to explore Wall Wood.

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View of Goldilocks Buttercup (Ranunculus Auricomus) in Wall Wood


When you've finished in Wall Wood, head right at the end of the entrance path. The path takes you to an exit onto Woodside Green, also under our care. Turn right towards the road, and turning right, head back down the road past the Wall Wood entrance, continuing until reaching a National Trust entrance gate into Hatfield Forest on the left. Continue past this gate to the next entrance on the left (you exited previously) with signs for the Forest Way. Enter the forest here and, heading straight ahead, follow the left-hand of the two 'rides' presented.

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Cottages at Woodside Green in summer, near Hatfield Forest


Head straight on, keeping to the left-hand ride with Emblems Coppice on your left. When you reach the open plain, skirt round the right-hand side of Forest Lodge, a 16th-century former hunting lodge. Follow the made-up path, passing through a gap in the tree line. If you don't wish to visit the Lakeside Area, turn left and go to (8). Otherwise, head straight ahead down a ride through Collins Coppice. On reaching the bottom, turn left and head down until you reach the end of this ride. Bear right along a small path until you reach a gated footbridge. Cross this bridge; turn right and follow the side of the dam until reaching the path along the side of the lake. Turn left and the Shell House, café area and toilets are in front of you.


When you've finished at the Lakeside area, turn left at the café and exit through the gate into the car park. Head straight across the car park, looking out for the very tall un-missable Cedar of Lebanon tree. Cross two small footbridges and head around the tree. Continue up the wide ride in front of you and when reaching the top, you'll be on the plain near to Forest Lodge.

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Indian Cedar Tree at Hatfield Forest


Now continue right along this main plain known as London Road. Bearing left across the road, keep the treeline to your left. Keep to the left pass Round Coppice. You're now in the 'London Bridge' area and will see a small plantation to your right. Continuing on, you may see piles of coppice, left in the open to 'season', on your right.


Almost opposite Spittlemore Coppice are the Portingbury Hills - the visible remains of an Iron Age settlement probably associated with early woodland clearances and livestock grazing.

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Coppiced wood at Hatfield Forest


Still keeping to the left tree line, continue on what is known as Shermore Brook - look for an area of reclaimed wood pasture. Just after, if you look into the trees, you will find the site of the Doodle Oak, with an information plate.

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A view of the stump of the Doodle Oak in Hatfield Forest


Keeping to the left, bear round to the right and exit the forest through the Elman's Green gate with information board. If you fancy a snack, a small diversion down the path in front of you will take you across the main Bishop's Stortford to Dunmow road and on to Café Park in Thremhall Park. It's open until 4pm on weekdays (3pm Fridays).


Turning right out of the Elman's Green gate, it's a pleasant walk along the old railway bed going through 5-bar gates. On passing the 4th gate and last Forest entrance gate, continue a few yards until reaching the site of Stane Street Halt. Continue for a mile along the Flitch Way until reaching the old Takeley Station House (1) and your parked car (if you came by car).

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Site of Stane Street Halt Hatfield Forest


Takeley old Station House TL562211

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Hatfield Forest, Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex


This walk involves paths, stiles, tree roots, ditches and footbridges. It gets muddy in wet weather, so wear suitable footwear. Unfortunately this walk is not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. Limited parking at Takeley Old Station House. Dogs are welcome under close control and must be on lead around the Hatfield Forest lakeside area. Please dispose of dog litter responsibly.

Hatfield Forest, Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex

Contact us

Hatfield Forest, Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex

How to get here

Hatfield Forest, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Essex, CM22 6NE
By train

Nearest station, Bishop's Stortford or Stansted Airport

By road

Near Takeley Four Ashes Public House at junction with B1256/B183. Take B183. Turn left into Elm Close and immediately right into Sycamore Close. Takeley Old Station House is 100 yards on the right.

By bus

Arriva bus service 508 (Harlow via Bishop's Stortford to Stansted Airport) stops at Takeley Four Ashes crossroads (junction with B1256/B183). Turn left into Elm Close and immediately right into Sycamore Close. Takeley Old Station House is 100 yards on the right.

By bicycle

Flitch Way from Bishop's Stortford or Braintree.

Hatfield Forest, Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex

Facilities and access

  • Parking: Takeley Station (limited) or road parking.
  • Food and drink: Hatfield Forest Lakeside area café during opening times. Check website for opening times. Café Park in Thremhall park. Takeley Four Ashes Public House. Old Station House serves lunches occasionally.
  • WC's: In all locations.
  • Shopping: NT Plant and Gift shop in Lakeside area. Estate venison also available..