We are grateful to the River Colne Countryside Project who supplied the details for this walk. It’s a beautiful walk of about six and a half miles.
The start of the walk differs depending on which mode of transport you use.
If you use public transport to get to Chappel
At the Bus stop head towards the viaduct, turn right at footpath sign just before viaduct, soon crossing a bridge then turn left at footpath sign under viaduct arch.
Now continue with the main description of the walk.
If you drive to Chappel
On leaving your car do not return to the road, continue across the green to the play area near the viaduct, passing under the viaduct arch, arriving at the entrance to the Chappel Millennium Green.
Turning right immediately, walking with viaduct on your right, cross stile (wm) as it enters a wooded area and continue ahead, soon bear left over stile and bridge(wm) to enter field. From here you need to make for the house with the dormer windows to the right of the opposite corner of field, follow the footpath as it cuts diagonally across the field on a well defined path to bungalow and footpath sign. Emerging on a small road turn left and keep, straight ahead to the footpath sign at the corner of the white bungalow, turn right and follow path with the bungalow and pond on your right. At end of field cross ditch and turn left for 20 yards, then turn right on well defined path across centre of field, then continue along edge of field on a grassy path, at corner of field go over stile(w/m) and continue in a forward direction with hedge on left making for an old pillbox. Cross stile beside pillbox and bear left crossing the bridge over the River Colne, (this is where you link up with The Essex Way).
Climb over the stile and immediately cross the next stile on your right and follow the edge of the field keeping the fence on your left. On reaching the corner of the field cross the stile (w/m) and continue ahead with the farm buildings on your left, soon joining a track (w/m) taking you up to the A1124.
Cross the A1124 WITH CARE to the footpath opposite (w/m) and turn right following the edge of the field downhill, continue along the edge of the field as it turns left with field perimeter and soon passing a lake on your right.
Upon reaching a country road turn left heading uphill, following the road as it turns right and shortly after the bend and just before a sharp left hand bend take the footpath signposted on your right and head downhill through the orchard soon arriving at a footbridge at the bottom of the hill. DO NOT CROSS THE FOOTBRIDGE turn left (w/m) and follow the path along the edge of the orchard with a ditch on your right.
Turn right at a way marker over a concrete bridge cross the stile and keep ahead uphill to a way mark ahead, follow the broad track keeping the wooden fencing on your left as it heads first uphill and then bearing left downhill through a gap between two fenced areas all the time keeping the wooden fence on your left and heading downhill to a gate (w/m).
Keep ahead with sparse hedge on your left staying in the lower field soon coming to a gate at the far end of the field (w/m), go through the gate maintaining your direction across the field to a bridge (w/m). Turn left and cross a footbridge (w/m) and turn right along the edge of the field. Upon reaching a country road cross over to the footpath opposite and follow the right hand edge of the field.
At the edge of the field (w/m) turn right over the bridge and continue along the left hand corner of the field. On reaching the top corner of the field (w/m) keep ahead into the woodland, at the way mark turn left along this delightful woodland path which, in the spring months is lined with Spring Violets and Primroses. At the fork in the paths (w/m) turn left heading towards the railway and CROSS WITH CARE. Cross the footbridge beyond the railway and head straight across the field beyond. On reaching the country road cross over to the footpath opposite and follow this pleasant path along the right hand edge of the field soon crossing into the next field (w/m) and continuing along the path to emerge on a country road.
You now have a choice, if you follow the rest of the Fairmaid walk you will have a 5 to 10 minute walk along the A1124 which is fairly busy and has no footpath. My personal preference (which is traffic free) is to turn left and continue down this road towards the A1124. On reaching the A1124 turn right along the footpath for about 50 yards and then turn left onto the footpath opposite and follow the track downhill into the valley. (now proceed to the section marked below in bold
Turn left and follow this pleasant road surrounded by open farmland for a short distance until you arrive at a footpath on your right. Take the footpath heading out across the field, upon reaching the way mark follow the edge of the woodland keeping slightly downhill keeping the wood on your right and the field on your left.
On reaching the bottom of the hill, follow the perimeter of the field to the stile (W/m) cross the stile, and head across the field to the stile opposite. Climb over the stile and follow the track soon emerging on the A1124.
Turn left, following the A1124 for a short distance to Wakes Hall at the top of the hill. Cross over the A1124 to the footpath opposite and follow the track downhill into the valley.
On reaching the farmhouse continue straight ahead through the gate and crossing a bridge, at a way mark enter the field and keep ahead soon coming to a footbridge. Cross over the bridge and head diagonally bearing left across the field to the stile in the opposite, corner of the field. Cross the stile and continue ahead with the lake on your left and crossing over another stile. Bear left, keeping the lake on your left and head for the stile in the opposite right hand corner of the field.
Cross the stile and the footbridge beyond and follow the way marks into the next field continuing along the left hand edge of the field with the hedge on your left.
Here you can get your first view of the distinctive white spire of the St.Barnabas Church at Chappel. Cross the next stile in the corner of the field (w/m) and maintain your direction, crossing the next stile (w/m) and keeping the hedge on your right.
Cross the FINAL STILE and keep ahead to the St.Barnabas church and the car park beyond.