Chelmsford is home to the largest wooded heath in Essex

The landscape shapes things to do in Chelmsford. The centre is dominated by the mount at Danbury; probably the county’s most important strategic / sacred location for many thousands of years.

Wild swimming – Chelmsford


miles of river walk

miles of coast

Take a freshwater dip at Chelmsford. Swim where the rivers Can and Chelmer meet, or plunge in a water pool beneath Danbury Mount.

Elm Farm

A wooded glade beside the footpath, where the River Wid swells wide enough for a dip.
Arrive at either Hyland Park adjoining or park in St Mary’s Church (51.718847, 0.45097589) and walk 14 minutes to the river.

51.708133, 0.44967771

Lawford lane

A crossroads pool where the rivers Can and Wid join. Relax by taking a plunge, in between cycling or walking the riverbank path.
Park in Writtle and walk (or cycle) north east of the town 12 minutes on Lawford Lane (51.730683, 0.43236136) bridleway.

51.738308, 0.43993056

Little Baddow

A reedy section of the Chelmer to bathe in the shadow of Danbury Mount.
Park at Boreham about St Andrew’s Church (51.757488, 0.54307222) for a 26-minute walk along the footpaths riverside.

51.748687, 0.53790092

Walk the wild wood – Chelmsford

public woods

species of deer

miles of footpath

Listen to nightingales, look for butterflies, visit a holy mound in Chelmsford woodland.

Blake’s Wood

A sand, gravel peak on the Danbury Ridge, between, heath and bog. You can see Bradwell Power Station and Mersea from here. Rest in the rush of bluebells and purple orchids in spring, while listening to nightingales.

Thrift Wood

Best wood in Essex for butterflies, with more than 20 species living here. Green woodpeckers come to feed on the wood ants.

Galley Wood

The wooded common is dominated by St Michaels Church that sits on an ancient holy mound. The church spire can be seen for miles around in all directions.

Wild camping and tramping – Chelmsford

Wild camp in Chelmsford, in beer gardens, wooded hideaways and commons.

The Castle

The oldest licensed premises in England. Once served ale to 12th Century pilgrims travelling to Thomas Becket’s tomb. Tunnels from the cellars are said to have once linked the inn with the nearby Leez Priory.
A nice stopover as part of 21st century tramp or trek along the pilgrims trail.

Danbury Common

The largest area of wooded heathland in Essex. Hammock or bivvie between bracken and gorse scrub over 175 acres. The rare Rosy Marbled Moth principal British stronghold.


Woodham Walter Common

A wooded plateau on 197 acres of sand, dominated by ancient, stunted and stag-headed oak. Fall asleep listening to nightingales singing long into the spring night.

Cole Hill

A ‘holy’ spring by the side of the road at Cole Hill on Boreham Road, near Great Leighs Church. Of significant local importance for it alleged ‘healing powers’.

Lingwood Common

A woodland considered rare in Britain: a combination of hornbeam, sweet chestnut, sessile oak, pedunculate oak and hazel. All would have been foraged by our ancients.

Thrift Wood

Somewhere to study the Great Baddow geology for an insight into local nature and history.

Rivers, brooks and fresh water – Chelmsford

Watch shelduck around Hanningfield or stalk four species of deer with a camera at the River Ter.

River Ter

The 16 acre river section through Great Leigh has the SSSI status; the walks around neighbouring Little Leighs are better. See all four species of deer, including red stags. Park at the church.

Walthambury Brook

A water course and resource that was once administered and controlled by tribal holy leaders. Langley’s House and the neighbouring deer park demonstrate the interest Norman invaders took in this place. Littley Green has a pub called The Compasses Inn.

Hanningfield Reservoir

Duck Drive. Breeding colonies of pochard, shoveler, teal, tufted duck and shelduck. Pintail also arrive in large numbers during the early winter. Visitor centre closes at night.

Beacons and sacred places – Chelmsford

Essex’s second best view after Sandpit Hill, Castle Point, at Chelmsford’s Danbury Mount.

Danbury Mount

Arrive an hour before sunset. If you get a chance to be alone with the view over Hanningfield you’ll feel the magic. On a clear day it’s possible to see across Kent.
Park in the church car park and walks through the cemetery.

Good Easter

An ancient stopover while walking the River Can. The Essex Way diverts from the riverbank up towards St Michael’s Church, Souther Cross Road; Tye Green is a former resting place for pilgrims and horse traders.

All Saints’ Church

Look for the remains in the wood next to East Hanningfield Hall. A Saxon chief was converted to Christianity in the 7th Century and built the first church here. It stood for over 1,000 years until fire in 1883.

Ancient and ruined – Chelmsford

A prehistoric settlements at Chelmsford, as well as an ancient road and flint built tower.


Neolithic and a late Bronze Age settlements have been found all over the parish. The Odeon roundabout was built over ruins of an octagonal temple. The Romans built a fort here in AD 60, and gave it the name Caesaromagus: “The market place of Caesar.”

Little Leighs

A village church dedicated to St John the Evangelist. Built of flint rubble, the existing structure dates back to the 12th century.
Park in the church car park to explore the surrounding river valley. The locals a friendly and knowledgeable.


A village that sprung up on the line of a prehistoric track that once linked Colchester to London. The Romans upgraded the route to a military road, now known as the A12.

Good food, eats and sleep – Chelmsford

Good food and lodgings around Chelmsford.

Boswell House Hotel

Good for Essex Records Office. highlight is the breakfast which is tremendous value. 10 minutes from station.

The Lion Inn

The Lion Inn, Main Road, Boreham, Chelmsford, Essex.

The Old Windmill

South Hanningfield Road, South Hanningfield, Chelmsford, Essex.

The Hare at Roxwell

Bishops Stortford Road, Chelmsford, Essex.

Pig & Whistle

Chignal Smealy, Chelmsford, Essex

The Compasses Inn

Littley Green, Chelmsford, Essex.

Talks, workshops and Essex tours

Workshops for schools, scouts, guides, community groups or businesses. Learn how to wild camp and forage, or where to hike, canoe and cycle in Essex. Also, talks on the unique history of land ownership in Essex, and how to enjoy the outdoors by understanding all the laws of access.

Phone – 07947 160007

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