Plenty of paths to Copford Plains
- Credit: Archant
A walk around the Copford Plains area. Walked by: Lotte Sherman.
Map: 184, grid ref 937 243. Length: 7.5km/4.6m. How to get there: business compound alongside the B1408 in Copford, postcode: CO3 8LT. Refreshments: Wyevale Garden Centre Cafe.
The last time I visited the area west of Colchester, the urban sprawl had just encroached on the border between Stanway and Copford. This time housing developments have sprung up on both sides of the old Roman Road; south of it only the workings of large quarry and sandpits (at the time of walking) are stopping further expansion of this oldest recorded town in Britain.
Parts of the disused workings are being upgraded to “Greenfields” with a new plantation, signed footpaths and benches by the wayside, so future generations can enjoy country walks in the border land between a village and conurbation. The “plains” is the arable area west of Copford Green; the highest point marked as only 40m above sea level, so it may have been flooded after the end of the last ice age.
Start your journey from the business compound or bus stop by the B1408 walking in the westerly direction until you reach Hall Road leading off to the left. This service road links up with the sewage works further along on the left and Gravel Pit Wood on the right.
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Veer off into the wood via the gate and follow any of the paths through the terrain aiming for the exit in the right corner of the wood. When emerging at the border, ignore the path running along the playing area on the right, but use the narrow path ahead and the steps in the gap of the hedge and up to the arable area.
The signed public right of way across the planted field is not reinstated and not easily seen, so the use of a compass is recommended. Once over the brow, the next way markers are visible and guide you to a footbridge over a deep ditch, across a second field, ending at the corner through a gate and exits onto a road near the Alma pub.
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Take note of the small pond and repaired open-sided thatched barn to the right on the other side.
Proceed left to the four-way road junction and left again walking towards Copford Hall and the church. Turn right at the T-junction with Aldercar Road to reach the entrance to Copford Hall grounds. Pass through gate, walk along to the end of the drive and locate the small gate into the churchyard opposite. Pause a while to look into St Michaels and All Angels church, you will not regret it.
Exit the cemetery by the main gate and find the signed footpath running in a north-easterly direction. Along the way you encounter a footbridge across the Roman River and eventually arrive at the commercial compound of Bellhouse Farm.
Walk past it on right border to the way markers at the gate, take the fenced in path to the left, which surrounds part of the sandpits, and follow the arrows on discs until reaching a junction with several paths. From this high embankment you need to aim for a route taking you diagonally left across the bottom of the ‘Pit’; use the bench next to the footpath as the place you want to go and proceed.
First you have a wooded are on the left and further along mostly barren, open spaces, until the path leads uphill to Church Lane and Oldhouse Farm. From here it is just under 1km on the lane to exit onto the B1408. Turn left, use the safe island to cross over and you are almost at the entrance to the business compound or near a bus stop.