Weald and Navestock
Circuit from the country park via Navestock Side
Spring or summer
Songbirds and spring flowers in Weald Park and The Mores; a colony of house martins on the Green Man, Navestock Side.
Some paths cross arable fields that may be ploughed; paths in Weald Park and The Mores can be difficult in wet weather.
Start from the car park near the Weald Park visitor centre, off Weald Road
Full circuit (ABCDEFCGA) 4 hours; short loop, Weald Park and Pilgrims Lane (ABCGA) 2 hours.
Gently undulating terrain mainly on well-defined paths and tracks, except where they cross arable fields towards Navestock; one or two sections on fairly quiet roads.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Weald CP outgoing
Take the track leading from the left of the car park, down the slope in front of the deer enclosure. It leads to a causeway between two lakes, at the end of which take the righthand track, leading up across the grassland to the right of woods at the top of the slope. It then drops down into a dip and across a strip of marshland. Climb up the slope beyond towards an avenue of large trees and swing right to join the track running down the centre. At its end a track crosses and you turn left to join it, with mixed woodland on your right and an avenue of large oaks on your left, then it enters woodland with ancient woodbanks on both sides and soon you cross the perimeter track and leave the park to enter a Green Lane.
Stage BC: Weald CP to Pilgrims Lane
Follow the Green Lane past a large greenhouse on your right and past horse paddocks, after which it broadens into what seems like a dual carriageway, with a hedge down the middle. After a gate and stile it is surfaced and soon meets Coxtie Green Road, which you cross, looking for a stile a short way to the left which takes through three thistly meadows. The path leaves the third via a stile part way down the lefthand hedgerow, and continues past a riding school and through a horse paddock with an (electrified!) fence on the left, then over a stile into Pilgrims Lane.
Stage CD: Pilgrims Lane to The Mores
Turn left along Pilgrims Lane, once a Green Lane but in this section tarmac. At the end of the lane the entrance to The Mores can be seen across the road half-right, on Snakes Hill. Cross to it and follow the path through the woods, keeping close to its lefthand edge. At the end of the wood you emerge on to Wheelers Lane.
Stage CG: Pilgrims Lane to Weald Park
Continue straight along Pilgrims Lane, past where the tarmac stops then across several tracks. Passing through a small wood and past a pond on the right, the tarmac resumes and shortly you bear right into Bellhouse Lane with houses on the left and arrive at Coxtie Green Road. Go straight across into the road leading to the recycling centre and, just before the entrance, turn off right on to a track with a large greenhouse on the right. Turn right on meeting a track coming in from the left, then downhill and across a plank bridge to enter Weald CP.
Stage DE: The Mores to Navestock woodlands
Turn right along Wheelers Lane and after 300m take a footpath on the left that leads along the grassy margin of arable fields with a hedge on the right. You pass a walled garden then the farm then over a stile on the right into Tan House Lane. Turn right and follow the road up to the junction and cross to a stile opposite, a short way up Sabines Road. From here the footpath leads across arable fields to Prince's Road, where you turn left and follow it until it converges with woodland on the right, and you take the footpath that turns off sharp right into the wood.
Stage EF: Navestock woodlands
Follow the path through woodland with open glades, then outside the wood along the verge of arable fields, then alongside a stream fringed by trees. The path turns left to join a farm track then crosses the stream and turns right on to a broad grassy margin to an arable field, with an alder wood on the right, then right again on a broad grassy track between woods. Emerging from the woods, the path follows a tall hedge and then a narrow woodland on the left along the edge of arable fields. You will see the houses of Navestock Side ahead and soon pass the Green Man PH and reach Navestock Road.
Stage FC: Navestock Side to Pilgrims Lane
Across the road from the end of the footpath is Navestock Side's green and cricket pitch. Cross the road and take the path leading between the green and the play area, then turn right beyond the pavilion and left again 100m further on. Follow the path across an arable field with a hedge on the left, then across a plank bridge through a gap in the hedge ahead and straight across the middle of another arable field with the woodland of The Mores across on your right, with the final stretch between fences. Turn right on to Mores Lane, past the church then the entrance to The Mores on Snakes Hill, and turn left into Pilgrims Lane, passing on the right the stables and the stile you came over on the way out.
Stage GA: Return to Weald CP
Enter Weald CP and turn left when you meet the bridleway, with a tall bank ahead topped by trees, then go straight ahead past the gate when you join a crossing bridleway. You are now on a former Green Lane, with woodbanks both sides topped by ancient coppiced trees. Go gently down past plantations of conifers on your left and mixed native woodland on your right, then through a patch of birch trees and a damp clearing. Look out for a massive ex-pollard oak, at which you turn right down into a dip and up the other side, then half-left to join a broad grassy avenue of chestnut trees. (Water seeps down this slope so it can be boggy at any time of the year.) Straight ahead at the bottom of the slope you can see beyond fencing the cattle-grazed parkland with its massive pollard trees, but bear right before you reach the fencing and pass above the lakes out into the open grassland. Walk diagonally up the slope through the less mown grassland to get back to the car park.