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Path and gate, Hatfield Forest, Takeley, Essex
Enjoy a woodland walk in Essex | © National Trust/Justin Minns
Essex, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire

Takeley to Wall Wood circular walk

This 9.5-mile (15.3km) walk in Essex starts from the disused railway station at Takeley and continues cross-country to the ancient Wall Wood, before returning to Takeley. Along the way, look out for St John the Evangelist Church, Woodside Green, Stane Street Halt and the renowned Doodle Oak.

Total steps: 12

Total steps: 12

Start point

Old Station House, Takeley. Grid ref: TL562211

Step 1

Starting at the Old Station House at Takeley, access Flitch Way from behind the building. Turn right and walk under the railway bridge. Continue for about ¼ mile (400m) until you reach the 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.

Step 2

Cross the stile and head diagonally to the left, towards the far corner of the field. There, you'll find another stile. Cross this and turn right down the lane. Go over the 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.

Step 3

After visiting the church, turn left out of the gate and retrace your steps, turning left again and heading back down the lane until you reach the stile with a green on your right. Follow the footpath signs across the green and eventually you'll come to a small footbridge – cross this into the field. The path heads across the field, but if it's muddy or filled with growing crops, turn right and walk around the field boundary, rejoining the path going into the next field. Follow this path downhill through another field boundary until you reach a made-up path. Turn right and, passing Pincey Cottage on your right, rejoin the Takeley Street to Hatfield Broad Oak road. Turn left and follow the road for 200–300yd (180–270m). Be careful, as this road can be busy.

Step 4

On the right, you'll 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 you reach an exit gate onto the road. Turn right and follow the road until you reach the entrance to Wall Wood on the left. Enter the wood and head straight ahead on the path. At the end of the path, feel free to explore Wall Wood.

Step 5

When you've finished in Wall Wood, head right at the end of the entrance path. The path will take you to an exit onto Woodside Green, which is also cared for by the National Trust. Turn right towards the road and, when you get there, head down the road past the Wall Wood entrance, continuing until you reach the National Trust entrance gate into Hatfield Forest on the left. Continue past this gate to the next entrance on the left (the one you exited previously). Enter the forest here, go straight ahead and then, when you arrive at a fork in the path, hook a left.

Cottages at Woodside Green
The quaint cottages at Woodside Green | © Michael Graham

Step 6

Head straight on, keeping to the left-hand ride with Emblems Coppice on your left. When you reach the open plain, skirt around 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 step 8. Otherwise, head straight ahead down the ride through Collins Coppice. Upon reaching the bottom, turn left and keep going until you reach the end of this ride. Bear right along a small path until you reach a gated footbridge. Cross this bridge, then turn right and follow the side of the dam until you reach the path along the side of the lake. Turn left and the Shell House, café area and toilets will be in front of you.

Step 7

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 Cedar of Lebanon tree. Cross two small footbridges and head around the tree. Continue up the wide ride in front of you, and when you reach the top, you'll be on the plain close to Forest Lodge.

Step 8

Head right along London Road, then bear left across the road, keeping the treeline to your left. You're now in the 'London Bridge' area and should see a small plantation to your right. Continuing on, you may see piles of coppice on your right that have been left in the open to 'season'.

Step 9

Almost opposite Spittlemore Coppice, you'll see the Portingbury Hills and the visible remains of an Iron Age settlement.

Step 10

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'll find the site of the Doodle Oak, with an information plate.

Tree stumps at the Doodle Oak, Essex
The Doodle Oak | © Christopher Connell

Step 11

Keeping to the left, bear round to the right and exit the forest through the Elman's Green gate. 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 the café in Thremhall Park.

Step 12

Turning right out of the Elman's Green gate, head along the old railway bed, through the five-bar gates. On passing the fourth gate and the last forest entrance gate, continue a few yards until you reach the site of Stane Street Halt. Continue for a mile along the Flitch Way until you return to the Takeley Old Station House.

End point

Old Station House, Takeley. Grid ref: TL562211

Trail map

Map of Takeley to Wall Wood walk, Essex
Map of the route | © Crown copyright and database rights, 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Bush End Road, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Essex, CM22 6NE

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