Thorndon Country Park is near Brentwood in Essex and includes rare areas of heathland which are populated by sheep and goats. This Essex walk starts in Upminster and the London Loop before taking advantage of the myriad of footpaths, bridleways and woodlands to walk through Thorndon Country Park and then down to West Horndon and a quick train journey back to Upminster.
Despite it being mid-October the weather was fantastic, very warm and with clear blue skies… perfect for walking. Standard walking clothes for today; walking trousers, walking boots, t-shirt and a lightweight waterproof jacket in my rucksack just in case.
From Upminster Railway Station I turned right to walk up the main road, heading north, to pass Upminster Golf Course and Tithe Barn, a medieval agricultural barn used to store tithes (a tenth of a farm’s produce that had to be given to the church). Continuing along the road to pass Avon Road before reaching Bird Lane by the signpost for the London Loop I then turned right and then took the first left to cross a stile by the public footpath sign.I was now quite glad that the road part of my walk was complete.
Continuing along the footpath to pass three signposts before reaching a stile at the footpath signpost No 145. A quick dash across the A127 to the other side and footpath No 144 Tomkyns Lane and some very overgrown rough brambles crossing another stile and then into open farmland to walk up and slightly to the right and a large gap in the hedge. I then turned left to walk up and then around to the right to find the first of four stiles which then bent round to the left and onto a gravel track in Folkes Lane Woodland.
Reaching the end of the track I turned right at the signpost for Tylers Walk to follow the edge of the hedge to the turn left and cross the footbridge over the M25 and then left again at the public footpath signpost. My Ordnance Survey Map, Southend on Seas and Basildon, shows just one right hand turn into the farmland by the public footpath signpost which is just after an open gate and through a gap in the hedges but there seemed to be quite a few other signposts and routes available.
I continued around the wide grassy path following the edge of the fields and the natural walking route, which looks well walked. Being such a nice day there were a few mountain bikers, horse riders and dog walkers around. I have seen fallow deer in this area, mainly the fields below, but I knew I had no chance on a day like today.After a few twists and turns the field edges lead me to a small road where I turned right down to Hole Farm to turn left at the signpost to a steep climb up the tarmac pathway. Now joining the road I turned left up to the church and then turned right at the footpath sign for Birds Lane.
I then continued along this track crossing five stiles and a footbridge to join Birds Lane where I turned left and then right down Magpie Lane to the footpath sign No 112 on my left and a sign for the entrance to Warley Gap, a woodland area of Oak, Beech and Silver Birch. The various dips and ridges created by the remains of pits and banks created by the old gravel workings. Keeping to the right hand side of Warley Gap I continued to head up to then left the woodland and enter the Ford building. Warley itself used to be a large military camp dating back to 1804.
I then turned right at the road and right again to walk around and in front of the Ford buildings and followed the pavement to enter Barrack Wood and then the entrance to Thorndon Park at the cross roads where the gap in the forest was on the other side of the road and just to the right.
Now in Thorndon Country Park I followed the main road passed the first car park and then down and along passed the second car park to bear left passed Hatch House and then down to Hatch Farm where the pathway was just to the right hand side of the entrance to then find the footpath signpost for West Horndon.
Walking down to pass The Old Shop to now join more open fields and the notice board for Pigeon Mount. THe mount itself is now just an odd-looking lump with some trees on top. In its day there was a powdery white tower used for savouring the views of the Essex countryside and as a working pigeon loft.
I then turned left to join the gravel pathway to walk around the field edge where I turned a sharp right just before the large fishing pond. With Mill Wood on my left hand side I continued down following the field edge to the A127 and another quick dash across when the traffic died down for a few seconds.
Following the footpath signpost on the other side of the road I continued down to cross a stile and then another by the school playing fields to then enter West Horndon residential area. I then turned right and then left at the end of the road and then right again to see the Railway Hotel just in front of West Horndon Railway Station after completing a good 12 miles in just over 3 hours. Fortunately, I only had to wait five minutes for a train back to Upminster.
Click here for more photographs from this walk; Thorndon Country Park photos