THIS WALK runs along little known Bridleways which give two fantastic views across Herts and Essex. Discover the remains of an old lane...a fantastic Church, with an interesting engraving on its gable entrance..past where John Claire (the poet) resided

Alfred Tennyson, who was later to become the Poet Laureate, lived at High Beach for several years from 1837 before moving on to the Isle of Wight.

His first residence was on the site of what is now the Rookery with its stylish clock tower, later he moved in with his friend Judge Arabin in what is now called Arabin House.

John Clare, on the other hand, was on the cusp of his career when, at the age of 44 he was admitted to one of the three asylums administered by Dr Matthew Allen in 1837.

The troubled Clare who was allowed to roam around his lodging, what is now the Suntrap Study Centre, continued to write - referring to the stream (Suntrap stream): I love to see the Beech Hill mounting high, The brook without a bridge and nearly dry.

Tennyson, for his part, was writing his famous Christmas Poem which starts with: Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, - believed to be a reference to the sound of church bells drifting across from Waltham Abbey.

This is a jolly walk for any time of the year and one which will remind you, once again, that parts of Essex are far from flat.

1. Start

Leave the Owl pub and turn right. At a fingerpost to Mott Street go right past an 18C barn currently under restoration. At the first fork go right and continue past an open-sided barn across the middle of a field. At the boundary, take the left fork between bramble to join a fenced path which takes you to the top of a hill and extensive views across Waltham Abbey and Cheshunt. Continue downhill with the fence on the right and crossing two stiles to eventually reach a road.

2. 0.7 miles/ 1.1km

Turn right in Mott Street then left just before the sign for a house called Elmwood. Go through a pair of gates then right steeply uphill along a field edge with a hedge on the right and big views developing to the left. (The building with the steeple is on the site of Tennyson's house.) Cross a field boundary and continue right uphill. When you are virtually at the top of the rise, veer right through scrub to continue forward between two gate posts, ignoring a gate on the right, to join the remnants of what was known as Thompson's Lane. This fine track takes you to Avey Lane.

3. 1.1 miles/ 1.8 km

Go left and almost immediately right and right again along Pynest Green Lane, passing a riding school. At the next junction with Wellington Hill go forward for about 50m to look through a gate on the left - here you can see walls surmounted by pineapples, all that remains of the outbuildings of the original house where Tennyson lived. Retrace your steps and turn left up Wellington Hill to the excellent pub.

4. 1.8 miles/ 2.9 km

Turn right along Rats Lane. After passing attractive houses the lane reverts to a track with a fence on the right. Soon you are between fences. Before you reach a drive, fork right and join a road at the entrance to Arabin House (Tennyson stayed here with his host, Judge Arabin). Take the left fork to pass the church of the Holy Innocents to reach a T-junction.

5. 2.3 miles/ 3.6 km

Turn right. At the cross-roads go left, signposted to Mott Street. Go left at the next junction along Church Road (you can walk inside the edge of the woodland if you wish). You arrive at Suntrap.

6. 3 miles/ 4.8 km

Turn right just before the entrance (Suntrap is built on the site of a former asylum where John Clare was housed - it is now a Study Centre where Forest authority Ken Hoy was once principal). Almost immediately go left on a narrow path to a stile. Once through a kissing gate go left with Suntrap buildings to your left and its activity facilities to the right. Continue along a willow lined path, going slightly right at the end to enter a delightful covered lane via another kissing gate. The lane, which can be muddy, takes you between a mobile home plot and paddocks to a kissing gate where you go left to reach the road. Now follow the road left to return to the Owl.


Starting Point/Parking: We start from the Owl Pub which is at Lippitts Hill on a road running between Sewarstone and High Beach; only park here if you are going to give the pub your custom before or after the walk.

Distance: 3.2miles/5.2 km

Time: Two hours

Terrain: Surprisingly hilly, mostly good paths or roads but one muddy stretch toward the end

Suitability for Dogs: Good (remember that dogs need to be kept under control in fields where there is livestock and at times when birds are nesting)

Stiles: Four

Near: Loughton &Waltham Abbey

Refreshments: Pubs at start and halfway along route

Public Toilets: None

Public Transport: None

Map and Grid Reference: Explorer 174 398 970

More Information: Ken Hoy MBE who was for many years Principal of Sun Trap, the marvellous forest resource for young schoolchildren which we pass at point six, has written a highly informative book; Getting to Know Epping Forest which provides a mass of information about the Forest, its history and administration (ISBN 0 9543872 01).

General information about the forest can be obtained from Epping Forest Information Centre: 020 8502 8500.