Essex Way Stage 6 - West Bergholt to Mistley Heath

Type: Walk
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Duration: 1d

Facilities

Routes

  • Length of route (miles) - 12.5
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About

The sixth stage of the Essex Way is 12.5 miles long. The path starts at West Bergholt, Colchester and finishes at Mistley Heath. This path is most impressive along the Stour riverside on the pre-amble into Dedham Vale, but a short detour 5 minutes north of Dedham back towards the riverside behind the famous church is even better. 

This path forms an important link between the rivers Colne and Stour. The walker climbs out of the Colne valley via woodland and then down into the neighbouring Stour Valley before entering the estuary walk into Harwich.   

Rivers Hall is a highlight in autumn when the trees are a patchwork of red, yellow and green. Walking into Dedham, Lawford, Manningtree and then Mistley in one day – four of the most beautiful villages in Essex –  where sea meets fresh water, is the highlight of the entire 72 miles. Look out for cormorants fishing along the river’s edge. 

The Essex Way stretches 82 miles in total from Epping Station to Harwich, passing through five county districts:  Epping Forest, Braintree Chelmsford, Colchester and Tendring.

See below for other points of interest between West Bergholt and Mistley Heath.

Content provided by Stephen Neale

Facilities

Catering

  • On-site catering - There is 24hr catering in Colchester and limited catering along others part of the trail.
  • On-site light refreshments - There is 24hr catering in Colchester and limited catering along others part of the trail
  • Picnic site - All along the trail

Parking

  • Free Parking - Limited off street parking around Colchester
  • Parking with charge - Public car parks and paid street parking at Harwich.

Routes

  • Accessibility of route - Urban parts of trail around the towns and villages of Mistley and Harwich are suitable for wheelchairs/pushchairs. Other parts of the trail are not suitable. The terrain is generally flat but can get very muddy in winter. There are some steps and stiles.
  • Countryside - Yes but some urban
  • Length of route (miles) - 12.5
  • Long Distance Path
  • Typical duration of route - 1 day (8hrs)
  • Woodland - Some tree cover at intervals along the trail

Suitability

  • Dog Owners - Suitable for dogs, but must be kept on leads most of the time.
  • Families

Map & Directions

  1. START/END:– West Bergholt, Colchester CO6 3JB
  2. St Peter's Church – touch the pudding stone and brick walls. Keep walking 4 miles via River’s Hall (below) to St Peter’s sister church Langham Hall to smell lime tree blossom from the avenue of trees. Sitting under a flowering lime tree was once said to improve mental health.
    St Peter's Church
  3. Rivers Hall – smell pine and wild wood after rainfall on the uphill walk to the hall. The trail leads through one of the most varied and beautiful public access woods in Essex, albeit there is no access beyond the public rights of way.
    Rivers Hall
  4. The Coombs – take a historic walk in Constable’s footsteps through hillside woodland. He often painted the Dedham Vale from the trees of Gun Hill Place and The Coombs. Many of the Stour views he enjoyed have been lost to the expanding canopy of trees, but the Coombe ridge is none the worse for that. A cool place in summer and good shelter in winter.
    The Coombs
  5. Dedham – just to be here beside the River Stour is enough; but if you carry a packraft then launch from anywhere along the river bank. Swimming on a hot summer’s day is memorable. There are rowing boats to hire around Dedham Bridge.
    Dedham
  6. St Mary, Lawford – feel the magic of a spacious, village church straddling the border between fresh and tidal waters, Before leaving the church via the back cemetery east on the Essex Way, consider taking a detour north-east on the footpath that leads across the railway line down to tidal Stour. The detour to the riverbank is 1 ½ miles (51.953707, 1.030914) but is well worth the trek to smell salt air in nostril for the first time since leaving Epping.
    St Mary, Lawford
  7. Furze Hill – listen for the communal screech of crows and magpies when sparrow hawks or hobbies catch small birds and pigeons around the wooded edges of the hill .
    Furze Hill
  8. END/START:– Mistley Heath, Heath Road, Mistley, CO11 2QH.

Along This Route

  1. Dedham Art & Craft Centre is housed in a converted church in this popular village. The…

Along This Route

  1. Dedham Art & Craft Centre is housed in a converted church in this popular village. The…

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