Duton Hill, Chickney and Thaxted

Start: Duton Hill, Three Horseshoes (TL 604 268)
Finish: Thaxted, post office (TL 612 309)
Distance: 6½ miles (10km)
Walking time: 3 hours
Maps: OS Explorer 195, Landranger 167
Refreshments: Three Horseshoes pub in Duton Hill; pubs and cafe in Thaxted
Public Transport: buses to Thaxted from Stansted Airport, Great Dunmow and Saffron Walden; some Stansted/Dunmow buses serve Duton Hill

 
Bit of a cheat, this, in a way: for there are no uncle connections that I know of. Still, it’s a nice way to return the energetic traveller to Thaxted from the previous walk, with another ancient church and much pretty countryside, and a marvellous view of Thaxted reserved for the very end.

From the pub, walk to the bottom of the hill, and at the road junction continue ahead on the path shown by a concrete sign. Where the hedge ends, keep ahead into a splendid side-valley of the Chelmer (of what might be called Chickney Brook), moving slightly away from the wood on your right and picking up the tiny stream of the valley on your left. Keep this beside you for a mile. Eventually, you can veer uphill, using the boundary between fallow land and cultivated, to reach a path at the top of a bank. Turn left on this, to a road, and in a few metres take the lane towards Chaureth Hall Farm. (If the fallow land becomes cultivated, look for a marker post by the ditch as you near the road, and turn half-right uphill – or if all else fails, continue to the road and turn right.)

The valley of Chickney Brook

The valley of Chickney Brook

Keep the farm buildings well to your left and eventually you can turn right, a fence and patch of woodland on your left. Turn sharp left where it ends and drop down to a stream (the same one you had followed earlier). There is a footbridge to cross it, in scrub, with in 2016 a dodgy stile to reach it, and another not far above it. Chickney church is not far away, but you have to negotiate a private-looking hedge to reach it, or alternatively stay beside it and then go left. It’s a wonderful ancient building, grade I listed, part Saxon, and now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Chickney church

Chickney church

Retrace your steps a little from the church and take the signed path heading slightly left back to the stream, towards the right edge of a pond the other side of it. After crossing the stream you walk past it and enter a willow-wood at a gate. There is scant path in the wood and a few bits of boggy ground – just make sure the stream is not far away to your right. Once out, the path crosses the right-hand side of a large field (though not its right boundary), takes the right edge of a smaller one, and then crosses a third slightly left to come out to a minor road. Turn right on this and just before the bottom of the slight hill go left on a signed path.

Take a footbridge on the right and go half-right to another footbridge, then turn left. At a lane turn left, and soon veer half-left across the green of Cherry Green, joining a minor road. Don’t be tempted to veer right but continue to farm buildings, taking the track with a couple of green silos on the left. A few metres beyond them, veer right on a track, and cross the field towards a water-tower. There’s a footbridge at the end of the field. Cross it and turn left on a track for 500m. Eventually you leave it at a marker post and head across the field, coming out onto a track just to the left of the water-tower. Turn left on the track just beyond it; it soon veers right and becomes a minor road through Cutlers Green.

Cutler's Green

Cottage at Cutler’s Green

At a road junction, continue on a path across gravel beside a house to a gate. Here there is a splendid view of Thaxted beckoning you home. The track takes you down to a stream, in fact the River Chelmer not far from its source. Over, waymarkers take you up the left side of a field – OS maps show the right, but the path has been diverted to avoid a new house. It comes out on Watling Lane. Turn right, and join the main road past the splendid church, down the hill, to Thaxted’s ancient guildhall and, just beyond, the post office where five or six buses a day (none on Sundays) will take you back to Duton Hill. Check times in advance at Traveline.

Approaching Thaxted

Approaching Thaxted

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