This pretty walk from Fordham Heath to Cooks Mill near West Bergholt takes you along the River Colne for some idyllic views of the water’s edge | Words and photos: Laurie Page Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council

Great British Life: The walk viewThe walk view (Image: Archant)

The walk

1) From the car park, take the grass path to the north by the information board and running almost parallel to the road. The path ends at the main road by the road junction. Go straight across, signed to Cooks Mill (no through road).

Go down the hill to the house. Here the path swings right crossing the River Colne and then passes Cooks Mill where, at the gate, you turn left into a field and then sharp left again at the way marker post immediately after. Keep close to the high hedge and then to your left is the river. Cross a wooden footbridge in the corner of the field and continue into the next field. This bends right up to a gate in the hedge.

Great British Life: Pill boxPill box (Image: Archant)

2) Turn left onto a wide track which is part of the Essex Way. This runs between hedges. Go through a metal gate. To your left is one of several pill boxes you see en route, a reminder of the defences hastily erected during World War II.

Further on, cross a concrete bridge over a pretty babbling brook, then bear left to a way-marker where you proceed into the next field. At the end of the field, at the footpath cross roads, go through another gate and go straight ahead. Keep left at the fork. At the concrete footbridge, where there are seats for a rest, turn left over the second wooden footbridge to cross the River Colne.

Great British Life: Cooks Mill HouseCooks Mill House (Image: Archant)

3) You are in a large meadow with sheep. There is no marked path here but go uphill heading for the trees to the right of the farm buildings you see in the distance. At the top, keep just to the right of the trees and in the corner of the field pass through a kissing gate.

Bear slightly left across the field where donkeys graze. At another kissing gate in the far corner you cross a footbridge to the lane. Cross the lane and take the footpath almost opposite.

Great British Life: Essex’s best walks: Along the River Colne near Fordham HeathEssex’s best walks: Along the River Colne near Fordham Heath (Image: Archant)

4) Go along the field edge, then swing right across the crop field to a gate. Continue between a fence and a hedge. At the next gate and a little planked bridge, go straight on along the field edge admiring the extensive views to the left.

In the distance is the Suffolk countryside. Bear left when you reach the hedge. This takes you to a gate with the path then running between high hedges and soon after a little lane. Turn right along the lane taking you to the main road.

Cross the road and take the bridleway opposite. At the bollards turn left crossing the green directly passing the children's play area. Bear slightly right across the heath to return you to the car park.

Ordnance Survey maps are available from all good booksellers and outdoor stores or visit the online shop

Compass points

Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km).

Starting point: Car park at Fordam Heath, opposite The Cricketers pub (Sat Nav CO3 9TG)

Map: OS Explorer 184 Colchester

Refreshment: The Cricketers pub at the start of the walk.

Tourist Information Centre: Hollytrees Museum, Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1UG. Call 01206 282920

Places of interest nearby: Two miles to the east of this walk is the historic town of Colchester, once the capital of Roman Britain. It has an interesting castle with the largest Norman keep in England. There are also some excellent museums in the town and the remains of the old Roman wall are still in existence. Colchester Zoo, to the south of the town, houses a huge variety of animals including elephants, bears, tigers and giraffes.