Ongar, Moreton and Fyfield

Start: Ongar Lorry Park (TL 550 026)
Finish: Fyfield, Black Bull (TL 572 072)
Distance: 9½ miles (15km)
Walking time: 4½ hours
Maps: OS Explorer 183, Landranger 167
Refreshments: White Hart and Nag’s Head pubs in Moreton; Black Bull and Queen’s Head pubs in Fyfield
Public Transport: buses to Ongar from Epping, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Harlow; some Chelmsford buses serve Fyfield

The walk heads first to the remarkable church at Greensted by the Essex Way before taking a green lane and crossing the Epping Ongar railway. There’s a glimpse of the important Commonwealth-era house of Bovinger Lodge before the Cripsey Brook leads you to Moreton, with two good pubs to choose from and a fine rectory and church on the edge of the village. The entry to Fyfield takes another good green lane.

From the lorry park in Ongar, hop over the wooden railing at its edge and turn left bedide it. Cross the next field half-left to leave between houses and turn left on the road, but when it turns left continue ahead on another path, taking the alternative running a little left rather than downhill. Join the Essex Way and follow it for 1km to Greensted church.

Leave the church by the Essex Way, but where it turns left continue ahead. As you approach a house (being renovated in late 2015), keep to its left, and then turn left on a green lane called Penson’s Lane. When it becomes metalled, turn right on a footpath, which you will follow across a field until it crosses the preserved Epping Ongar Railway.

Turn right over the railway and follow the headland beside woodland, joining a lane where it ends. Turn right on the road – though minor, it carries some fast traffic – and then cross the busy A414, continuing down the minor road ahead. Just before the first house, turn left on a footpath, to join another minor road on which you turn right. Reaching a touring caravan site, turn left on the path beside it. In about 400m the path officially crosses a derelict stile into rough scrub, but it’s much easier to continue until you can dodge left into a field, following the headland to a stile in the field’s left corner. The house with a fine chimney stack that you can see from the top of the field is Bovinger Lodge (easier to see in winter), one of the few domestic houses surviving from the Commonwealth era of the 1650s when England had no King.

From the stile, cross scrub to a minor road on which you continue ahead. It drops a little to a stream, Cripsey’s Brook. Less than 200m beyond, opposite a house, turn right on a path which can be a little overgrown in summer, though going gets much easier after crossing a bridge over the brook. Follow the brook for 1km, Bovinger Lodge soon visible to your right, until a bridge leads into a meadow. Stay on the right of the meadow and soon turn right into Moreton. Keep ahead past the pubs and school to the village church and the former rectory.

Leave the back of the churchyard and turn right beside it, then turn left on a broad cross-field track. as you climb, look back for a good view across the valley of Cripsey Brook. Cross a track and turn half-right across a field, aiming for a marker post at a hedge corner. The hedge leads you the very pretty Fruit Farm Cottage. Turn right on the minor road just beyond, then fork left on the track to Greens Farm, keeping the farm on your right. Just beyond the farm, turn left at a marker across a field to another hedge-corner marker. This time the hedge leads you to a track. Stay on it for over 500m and then veer right on grass, up to the edge of a small reservoir, which you keep on your left, then head for the edge of a wood. Follow the wood around one right-hand corner but at another keep ahead, crossing a field to where a footbridge takes you over a ditch. Over another footbridge, turn right, then in nearly 200m look for a path heading half-left across a field to a farm. Turn right at the farm, soon picking up a green lane which joins a minor road in 1km then soon brings you out opposite the Black Bull pub in Fyfield.

Family history note – the three wooden sheds just before reaching the Black Bull are the battery chicken huts from which my uncle made his money in the 1960s. No false family romanticism here! His home, the Old Forge opposite the pub, was the site of many happy family Christmases.

For the bus back to Ongar, walk south into the main part of the village. There is a bus shelter beside the Queen’s Head pub but the Ongar buses stop opposite – there is no bus stop so signal clearly to the driver. There are only four or five buses a day (none on Sundays) so check times in advance at Traveline.

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