The countryside to the east of Chelmsford is not spectacular like the Lake District or the South West Coastal Path, but is nonetheless attractive with a mix of woodland, arable farming, small settlements, rivers and streams. And, of course, if you go far enough east there is the sea, with miles of salting and coastline. There is also pleasant countryside to the west of Chelmsford, especially in the area of Writtle Forest.
On Saturday, August 31st 1957, John Baker must have looked over his shoulder as he cycled home through Langford and recorded in his Diary:
My last view of the estuary, of the calling birds, the dark earth, bright water, romantically still trees, was beautiful. The loveliest place on earth, of great beauty and rich sadness. A wonderful day.
Much development has taken place over the last half century with both more housing and new roads being built in mid Essex. In particular the A12 Chelmsford by-pass has cut off the City from Danbury and Little Baddow. The quietness of places such as Grace’s Walk in Little Baddow, so beloved by Baker, has gone. Nevertheless, it is still possible to enjoy the countryside that Baker studied so closely.
Using the locations provided by Baker in his diaries, I have highlighted a series of walks covering the same ground that he travelled in his search for peregrines and other birds, over 50 years ago. Some of these walks are on National Trust land, but others are on sites owned or managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Over the past 60 or so years, the views have changed, but essentially the farmland, woods, hills, rivers and coast of from around Chelmsford to the sea remain to be explored on foot, bicycle or boat! The birds, both in number and variety, are as exciting to watch as ever!
Relevant Ordnance Survey Explorer maps and an excellent book:
These pages are under development. It is hoped to include maps of the walks at a later date! In the meantime please use maps and the excellent book Explore Wild Essex.