Stebbing: Picturesque north Essex
Lotte Sherman discovers some paths in north Essex
To reduce muddy, arduous walking across arable fields, this journey utilises two hard-top lanes; however, if you dislike hard-top walking, there are wide, grass verges on either side of the lane.
Starting your journey, look for Mill Lane leading off from the High Street next to the Stebbing Bowling Club. Walk down to the first footpath on the right and follow the direction of the finger-post, which almost immediately brings you into the cricket grounds. Make your way around this to the left, aiming for the far lower corner; a yellow marker on a gate is just visible.
Pass through two gates and proceed along the meshed fence passing the grounds with the impressive ‘Mount’. Within Stebbing Park is also a grade II listed building, apart from the moated Motte. The narrow footpath runs slightly uphill and emerges by the entrance of Stebbing Park and the road named The Downs.
To continue, climb over the stile by the side of the drive and follow the arrow pointing diagonally left across this grazing field sloping down to Stebbing Brook. Beware, it is very boggy, walkers have to find their own way across to the wide gap and gate in the hedge at the far side. At time of walking, there were no visible markers near this gate, but once through into the next grazing area, a way marker ahead identifies a crossing ahead over a side brook into a third meadow. This public right of way exits by a large former Mill House and the Mill Race; the waters are visible through the scrub by the road side.
Your journey now continues in a north-easterly direction; turn right on the road and shortly right again into the narrow path ending in a small residential area. Veer towards the left exit onto the upper end of High Street; cross over to Brick Kiln Lane and walk as far as Brick Kiln Farm. Ignore the first fingerpost on the left, but go to the junction of three lanes and follow Blueitt’s Lane leading off to the left.
The first stretch of this lane offers wide views over the surrounding area, but once past New Barn, it changes into a sheltered green lane until it terminates near Stone’s Farm. At this point you turn right and will walk in a southerly direction along ‘Lubberhedges Lane’ for a couple of kilometres. It may appear more like a road, but carries hardly any traffic, only Postman Pat (without his cat) passed me by!
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When arriving near Lucas Farm, you see a fingerpost pointing away from the road across the Green to a gap in the hedge surrounding the arable field beyond. Follow the signpost and continue on the cross-field path to the first telegraph pole with a yellow marker, guiding walkers slightly to the left towards the opening in the hedge along this field’s edge.
Choose the path running to the left of this hedge and continue in the same direction until emerging on the road near the church of St Mary the Virgin. You may like to have a look inside and then wander back through the far exit of the churchyard into High Street. Turn right and you are almost back at the start.