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Hanningfield Reservoir - Ramsden Heath - Downham

9th March 2014

8 miles - 2 hrs 45 mins

Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Park is an ideal place for a short and leisurely walk along the side of the reservoir and through woodland. The two and a quarter mile circular route takes about 40 minutes, starting at the Fishing Lodge on the eastern side, heading along the reservoir to the Visitor Centre at the western edge, and returning through Hawks Wood and Well Wood. Parking is free at the Fishing Lodge, and there is a cafe for a well-earned cup of coffee after the walk. For those wanting a longer walk, one alternative is to do three laps of the Nature Reserve, but a more interesting route is to leave the Nature Reserve at the Visitor Center at the western end, and to do a walk through Ramsden Heath and Downham.

 

 

The Fishing Lodge

Entrance to the Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve

Ideal place for hiring a boat.... and you may even see Chris Tarrant here as it is one of his favorite haunts

Shortly after entering the reserve, you take the path to the right. The path on the left is the route back

Follow the signs towards Lyster Hide and the Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre. For the Ramsden Heath walk, you can go through the Visitor Centre building,
or you can take the path to the left to the car park

The Visitor Centre car park leads on to the Hawksworth Road. Turn right alongside the Reservoir

The Hawksworth Road, with the reservoir on the right

 

At the end of the reservoir there is an Essex & Suffolk Water entrance gate; immediately
opposite this across the road is a public footpath with a gate leading
down few steps to a gravel road.

 

After 100 yards or so, the path goes to the right along the side of a black garage towards Crowsheath Community Woodland

 

Exiting Crowsheath Community Woodland, the path continues straight along a
wooden fence until you come to a road

Turning right along the road past The Thatched Cottage, the path goes off to
the left in 200 yards or so.

Path leaves the road to the left. After about 50 yards the path peels off to the
left through a narrow opening alongside a fence

 

The path comes to an open field over a small bridge

After the field, the path comes on to a Bridleway where you turn left

Along the Bridleway, which eventually leads into Mill Lane

Turning right where Mill Lane hits the main road, you walk for a couple of hundred yards to The Nags Head pub

The path goes to the right immediately opposite the Nags Head pub sign, across a field and by the side of stables

 

 

After passing another stile, the path goes off diagonally across the field to the left

The path goes to the left again along a fence separating gardens

This path eventually comes out on Park Lane, where you turn left for a quarter of a mile or so.

You pass Park Lane Riding School on the right, Katie House on the left, Langsdale Farm on the right, and turn left up a gravel path just before Kent Hill Fields

The path turns to the left alongside a white house. You have to go through a galvanized 7-bar
gate into a farm yard, and whilst it looks as though you should not be there,
this is the public right of way.

 

There is a horse-walking cage to the left, and a building sign "Hilbrow Stables" to the right... the path goes straight ahead slightly to the right of the telegraph pole in the middle of the picture

 

There may be an electric fence across the path; you can use the plastic handle to move it out of the way

After the stile, the path goes ninety degrees to the right towards an old caravan in the corner of the field

A stile to the right of the caravan leads to Pump Hill with views across to the hills of north Kent

The hill is divided into a series of paddocks, with kissing gates separating the fields. You follow the signs down and eventually come out onto the road next to the Fox and Hounds pub

The Fox and Hounds

Turning left up Church Road from the Fox and Hounds for about 500 yards, the path
then goes off to the right through a wooden gate

Cutting diagonally across the field, the path comes out on to Beauvoir Chase, where you turn right

Past De Beauvoir Lodge

Past De Beauvoir House and to the right

The dirt road eventually changes into a small path by Alfmill Farm

St Margaret's Church comes into view across the field. You continue walking until you come to Castledon Road. If you want to have a look at the church, it is a short 150 yard detour up the hill. If not, you cross the road and the path continues through Downham Hall Farm

St Margaret's Church

Downham Hall Farm; the stile is just visible in front of the black hay sacks

Passing a small pond, the path eventually comes to a bridleway where you turn left, following Byway 92

 

After a climb up Byway 92 you eventually come to The Grange on your left, with more modest houses on the right. The public right of way goes through the garden of the first house, but there is a path alongside a field, access through a galvanized metal barrier, which provided a better route to the bottom of the valley.

A narrow path leads from the bottom of the valley up towards the main road, eventually coming out in someone's garden

 

This garden leads to the road

Weekes Turkey's

Weekes Turkey's, Laylands Farm, is across the road as you reach the main road, with the Downham village sign just to your right. This is the Sudbury Road, and you turn right here for 200 yards to the cross roads. At the crossroads you turn left along Hawkswood Road for 200 yards, before turning left into South Hannginfield Road. The Hanningfield Reservoir brown sign points the way back along the South Hanningfield Road, passing Warren Road on the right. You can walk all the way back along the road, but the observant person will notice a gap in the wire fence on the left which takes you into the nature reserve and directly back to the Reservoir Fishing Lodge.