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24 September 2014

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Finchingfield and Gt Bardfield
Image: Finchingfield.
From the picture postcard village of Finchingfield, the route heads across fields and by the little River Pant to the almost equally attractive village of Great Bardfield. The return leg is mostly alongside Finchingfield Brook.
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Start: Finchingfield Distance: 5 miles (8 km) Approximate time: 2½ hours
Parking: Around The Green at Finchingfield Refreshments: Pubs and cafes at Finchingfield, pubs at Great Bardfield
Map: OS Landranger 167 (Chelmsford, Harlow & Bishop's Stortford) Explorer 195 (Braintree & Saffron Walden)

The walk starts at the junction of roads by the war memorial on The Green. Facing the pond and church, turn right along the road and, at the end of the green where the road curves slightly left, turn right, at a public footpath sign, on to an uphill tarmac drive.

Where the drive turns left, keep ahead along an enclosed path which continues along the left-hand edge of a field. The path later widens into a track that continues first between fields, then along a right-hand field edge, and bends first left and then right to reach a fork.

At this point turn left off the track through a hedge gap and walk across a field corner, making for a plank footbridge on the far side. Cross it, pass through a hedge gap, turn right and walk along the right-hand edge of a field. In the corner, turn right through another hedge gap and turn left to rejoin the track.

The track heads gently downhill along the right-hand edge of the next field, goes through a gap into the next field and bears right across it down to a narrow lane. Turn left, keep ahead at a junction (in the Great Bardfield direction) and, where the lane curves left, turn right over a stile. Walk along the left-hand field edge, turn left over a stile and continue along a narrow path, between a wire fence on the left and the tiny River Pant on the right, to reach a river-gauging station.

Climb a stile, continue across a field, following the curve of the river to the left, and climb another stile. Keep ahead, turn right to cross a footbridge over the river and turn left along the left-hand field edge.

Follow the field edge as it curves right and look out for where you bear slightly left to climb a stile. Continue along the right-hand edge of a field, later veering left diagonally across it to climb a stile. Walk across the next field, climb a stile and head gently uphill to a pair of stiles. Climb the one in front, turn right, head across a field and climb a stile on to a road.

Turn left into Great Bardfield and at a T-junction turn left along the main street. At a fork in front of the war memorial, take the right-hand road and, at the next fork by a triangular green, take the right-hand road if you want to see the 14th-century church, otherwise the route continues along the left-hand road.

Before reaching the end of the green, turn left at a public footpath sing, along a tree-lined path that emerges into a field. Keep along its winding left-hand edge, following the meanders of a stream, to climb a stile and bear right to keep by the right-hand edge of the next field.

Go through a hedge gap, veer slightly left across a field, go through a fence gap and keep ahead towards a farm. After entering the farmyard, turn left to pass to the right of the house (a former mill), cross a bridge and keep ahead over another footbridge.

Turn right along the right-hand field edge, follow it to the left and, at a track, turn right and then almost immediately left to climb a stile. Walk across a narrow field, climb a stile in a fence, follow the path into the next field and keep along its right-hand edge.

Finchingfield Brook is to the right, and you follow its meanders back to the village. Climb a stile, cross a plant footbridge, turn right along the right-hand edge of the next field and follow the edge to the left. Continue along the right-hand edge of a series of fields, going through hedge gaps and small belts of woodland, the tower of Finchingfield church comes into view.

Eventually the path goes through a wood, becomes enclosed and reaches a T-junction. Turn right on to a tarmac path, cross the brook and at a tarmac track, turn right up to a road. Turn left to a T-junction, turn left again, passing the church, and head downhill through the village. Cross a footbridge over the stream to return to the start.

From Essex Walks Pathfinder Guide, compiled by Brian Conduit (pub. Jarrold, ISBN. 0-7117-1594-7)

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