Walking the highways and byways of Black Notley
- Credit: Archant
A walk through picturesque Black Notley. Walked by: Lotte Sherman
Start and park: there is some space near the main entrance to the church to leave a car safely. How to get there: Use the A120 around Braintree, turn off the minor road signed Black Notley/Witham. The parish church St Peter & St Paul lies outside by Black Notley Hall. You need to locate the sign for it before entering the village proper. Maps: 195/183, grid ref 761 207 post code: CM77 8LE. Length: 4.5m/7.2km
This journey takes in a small part of the former site of Black Notley Hospital, which served many differing medical purposes over its years of existence. There are several books written about ‘A Century of Service’, between 1904 to 1998, although it did not quite make a full century before it closed its many doors and had to give way to housing developments.
From here you will walk south towards Hazelton Wood and return in a northerly direction via Dagnets Farm, making your way along High Ram and passing a spring, from which the waters flow west into the River Brain, so completing the circular route. In part, you walk a path dedicated to John Ray, the famous 17th Century genius in the field of botany.
Start by walking through the churchyard, locate the marked exit through a kissing gate and shortly surmount a stile into a grazing field. A sign warns walkers of a resident bull with his harem in the field. Exit via the metal gate and cross a wooden bridge. Slightly uphill brings you to the housing estate on the old hospital site. Cross Mary Rook Walk, continue along the wide, marked footpath between the abodes to emerge onto a cross-field path ahead.
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At its end, pass through the hedge, take the right fork at the next path junction and follow this path as it veers left to a farm house and onto Green Lane. Go right, ignore the first path to the left, but follow the second one leading to the border of Hazelton Wood. Keep going along the outside, past the upper corner; you will have to climb over two rather high stiles and a third one between fields. Arriving by the hedge turn left over a footbridge, soon right and right again over another wooden bridge. The path ends at a well signed byway.
Walk along here to the right, which brings users to Dagnets Lane and farm. Again turn right to the end of the lane and entrance to Wren Park. From here a long byway runs all the way into Black Notley, but you will only walk a short distance and leave the byway at the first junction ahead. Take the footpath to the left and follow the way markers; they guide you along around field edges with hedges on the right side.
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Halfway along markers point right and almost immediately left bringing walkers to the area marked as “High Ram” on the map. Make your way through the meadows, keeping to the left of the hedges, proceed past the path leading off on your left, until you emerge on a concrete drive. It leads slightly downhill, then uphill to Black Notley Hall. The public right of way around the property is clearly signed and ends directly opposite the church and the start of your journey. (Route walked December 2017)