Abridge To Woodford, Via Hainault Forest & Chigwell
This is a longer walk that starts off at Abridge initially following the same route as a previous walk titled ‘Abridge and Lambourne’, before sweeping East away from the Mid Roding in a loop clockwise across open countryside through Stapleford Abbotts before returning to Hainault forest & country park then through Chigwell to Woodford bridge. This walk takes in some beautiful countryside along some of the less well used footpaths East of the M11 and has lots of varied scenery to offer and there are many good vantage points along the route to enjoy the views, including quite surprisingly the last leg of the journey at Chigwell which has some wonderful countryside scenery that is sadly far too underrated.
I start this walk once again in the village at Abridge and head East along the A113 Ongar Road until I reach New Farm Drive on my right. Continuing South along New Farm Drive the road becomes a rough track & after the last house on my left just before the Cattery sign I go through a gate on my left. The path goes diagonally South East through this field and the next one, before running South along the edge of a plantation. At the end of the plantation I go through a style continuing South keeping the fence line of Soaply House on my right.
After a short walk I reach Church Lane where I turn left & very soon on my right I reach St Marys Church at Lambourne. I have included more information about this beautiful church on the walk titled ‘Abridge and Lambourne’ for reference. Continuing East past the church I walk past Church Cottages on my right & then enter a field directly in front of me heading East towards Mutton Corner on the south Western edge of Lambourne Woods. I then follow the edge of the tree line heading North East keeping the woods to my right.
On reaching the end of the woods I continue North East away from the woods along a hedge row for around 200 yards keeping the hedge to my right, then follow the path East through a gap in the hedge on my right which crosses a small stream. In the bed of this stream is a large wartime bunker covered in ivy, which i walk past then come out onto a field at the Southern edge of Stapleford Abbotts Aerodrome. The path continues East along the edge of the airfield & this is a fantastic place to watch the planes coming in to land just feet above your head.
From here the path continues East for around half a mile before reaching Woodside Farm. Following the track East through the centre of the farm I come out onto the B175 Stapleford Road where I turn right Then walk South for around a quarter of a mile before turning right down Hook Lane. I walk South West along the length of Hook lane for just under a mile, at points it is possible to use the field edge for this stretch keeping parallel with the lane. At the end of Hook Lane I turn left onto Bournebridge Lane heading East then follow the bend in the road right, which leads to the entrance of Lockwood Farm. The footpath follows the farm driveway South, on reaching the farm buildings I turn right heading uphill alongside the hedgerow keeping the hedge to my right & walk to the North East corner of the woods ahead of me. This is Crabtree Hill in Hainault Forest which is the highest point in the forest and near the source of the river Rom, it is a very good vantage point for views to the South and East.
Once entering the forest I follow the track West along the North edge of the forest until I reach Manor Road, where I cross over and turn left & then right down Hoe Lane. I walk North East along Hoe Lane for less than half a mile before turning left to pick up the next footpath opposite Lambourne Park Farm. From here the path heads west downhill across four fields towards Chigwell giving some beautiful views over the countryside to the South & West. This is another good vantage point for making the best of the views & I continue downhill until I reach the A1112 Gravel Lane, where I cross over and continue South West on the footpath through another three fields until I reach Pudding Lane where I turn left following the bend, then right to continue South West through another three fields. At the bottom of these fields I reach a wide bridle path called Green Lane where I turn left heading South East until I reach the end of Green Lane.
As I exit Green Lane I turn right on Vicarage Lane following the bend South West and again picking up the footpath straight ahead of me between Puckridge Cottages. From here I follow the footpath South West until I reach the footbridge over the railway, which I cross over turning right along Hycliffe Gardens then right along Lechmere Avenue which brings me out onto the A123 Hainault Road where I cross over picking up the footpath beside number 49. From here I cross the north corner of Chigwell Golf Course to the A113 High Road where I turn left and walk South West for around a quarter of a mile to Luxborough Lane, which I now follow West all the way to the end where I eventually reach the river Roding.
Once at the river I turn left onto the riverbank and follow the riverside path South all the way to Woodford Bridge. It is difficult to escape the noise of the traffic on the motorway but this section of the river really is a very diverse habitat for plant & animal life. In summer this short riverside walk is alive with butterflies and bees and makes a pleasant walk by itself. A wetland has been created in recent years to further enhance diversity in what was once a much poorer habitat for plants and wildlife. It is a rather pleasant surprise to be able to find such a rich environment so close to the hard shoulder of the motorway.
It is here at Woodford Bridge that this walk ends. Once again this is another walk that highlights what beautiful open countryside we have available to us only a relatively short distance to the East of the M11, much of which does not get the attention it so rightly deserves. Some of the public footpaths here are a lot less well used and although this area does not have the same grandeur as the Uplands, it does have a lot of similarities in the beautiful countryside views to be had and the wildlife it attracts.