Silver End: Off road to Rivenhall

Lotte Sherman enjoys a countryside route with some interesting associations

This very peaceful ramble is a real treat, as it avoids all road walking. You start along a short stretch on the linear walk dedicated to John Ray, the 17th Century eminent naturalist, who had a special interest in botany. The trail is well marked by plaques with his name and a buttercup.

In 2000 the Essex County Council in collaboration with the John Ray Trust and other organisations produced an informative booklet about his life, his work and the walk.

Halfway around this week’s circular ramble you pass the well-maintained property of Rivenhall Place, a grade II listed building. The house was used to accommodate soldiers in both world wars.

To start, locate the fingerpost at the back of the waste ground adjacent to the cycle and footpath running parallel to the Rickstone Road. Follow the Buttercup logo away from this path through this lovely green lane. Old trees and ditches on both sides give shelter; it is reminiscent of an ancient route between Witham and Silver End.

Ignore the first two paths leading off on the right and continue in the same direction to the next marker, where you leave the John Ray Walk. Proceed straight on to the next path junction, turn to your right, then left and right again and once in view of a lake ahead, walk to the left.

Shortly the path veers slightly right and up an incline to emerge in a dead-end road. Opposite house number eight an almost hidden fingerpost points in a southerly direction, which means you are almost doubling back on yourself. Walkers need to pass through a series of gates separating paddocks and cross a plank footbridge, before the marked public right of way leads away from the lake and uphill along a newly planted hedge.

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Pause a while to take in the view over the house and gardens of Rivenhall Place. The main house, half brick and half white-washed, from this distance, appears like looking at a photo and its negative. Proceed along the hedge until arriving at the junction with the road. A yellow way marker high up on the large oak, points out the continuation of the footpath along a line of trees leading to Rivenhall Thicks. Where the trees finish, the track runs between two fields before entering The Thicks. Keep to the left following the narrow lane which leads to the exit.

Take the left fork over a footbridge, stay to the left of the hedge and aim for the left border of Tarecroft Wood. At the far corner swing right and shortly left into the cross-field path to the end corner. Veer right (the waymark guiding walkers is on the top of the post). Make for the footbridge in the corner ahead bringing you back on to the John Ray Walk. Here turn left and enjoy this stretch of the walk in the opposite direction towards the starting point by the roadside.