White Colne: Four Colnes and some flying geese!

White Colne station building

White Colne station building - Credit: Archant

Between Halstead and Chappel are four Colne villages: Earls, Wakes, Engaine and White Colne. The latter, lying north of the river, was recorded the smallest in the Lexden Hundred.

Route of the four colnes walk

Route of the four colnes walk - Credit: Archant

In 1856, by Act of Parliament, the Eastern Counties had to construct a rail link along the Colne Valley and White Colne still retains its station building (converted to a parish hall in 1978) although the line finally closed to all trains on New Year’s Day in 1962.

St Andrew’s Church in White Colne and its old cemetery is described as “very tranquil in a rural farmland setting”, and it sits at the north-east corner of the spread-out village – country folk often were made to walk quite long distances to attend church services.

Look out for a few special features during this journey: in the garden of Over Hall a lonely male statue is keeping watch at the property boundary. Colne Park boasts a monumental column of 70ft, just visible from the footpath through the trees; the monument is dedicated to Michael Hills. A rather unusual weathervane on a slim tall post, depicting flying geese, delights visitors to White Colne Meadows.

Stride out from White Colne Station, (Number 1), down Bures Road to the A1124, turn right and shortly right again uphill to get to the dismantled railway. Steps are leading up onto the embankment. The path is a sheltered 1km walk before you turn off in a northerly direction. (Number 2) on reaching Mill Cottage, locate the next footpath on the opposite side of the road to continue in the same direction. Be guided by way markers to where the path splits; proceed uphill on the right fork, surmount a stile and keep to the side of the garden.

Take note of the sculpture (Number 3) a second stile leads onto the road to Countess Cross; walk left and shortly right following the signpost slightly hidden by large horse chestnut trees. From the compound of Countesscross Farm, way markers point diagonally across an arable field to the wood ahead. Find the footbridge leading into Aldercar (Number 4) and keep walking close to the left boundary as far as the path-junction, where you need to change direction passing Shrive’s Wood.

When emerging on the road, proceed to your left towards the T-junction with Station Road. Aim for St Andrew’s Church (Number 5) and if your time allows, walk the extra mile to have a look around; if not, turn off from the road on the footpath leading south between fields. Arriving at a footbridge and path-junction with the ‘Heritage Trail’ make for Station Road to the right.

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Opposite the path exit, seek out the public right of way behind the hedge, use the farm gate to enter the grassy expanse. A small map on the gate post directs walkers around this to the gate at the far end, which gives access to White Colne Meadows. This oasis has a pond, picnic facilities, young plantation and play area; make your way uphill towards the beacon and a black forge art weather-vane (Number 6). Continue to the right of the allotments, the path veers left and shortly within sight of the station cum parish hall car park, from where your journey started.