Birdbrook and Moyn’s Park




5.5 miles (8.8kms)

67ft (20m)

About the walk

To say this is a scenic walk would be an understatement. Both Steeple Bumpstead and Birdbrook have won best-kept village awards and both have their fair share of ancient buildings. Perhaps the area is best summed up by White’s Directory of Essex, written in 1848, which says: “… well wooded, and picturesquely broken into hill and dale ... the views from some of the summits are extremely beautiful.”

Hammer Horror and philanthropy

Until the late 19th century, Moyn’s Park was owned by the Gent family but in the 1950s Mr Ivar Bryce and his American wife Josephine moved in and restored the Grade I listed Elizabethan mansion to its former glory. You may recognise it on the walk if you are familiar with Hammer Horror films as it was often used as a filming location. Ivar Bryce’s wealthy wife, who was an heiress, bought the 16th century house and more than 400 acres when they married. Here, the pair successfully bred racehorses and set up The Bryce Foundation, an Anglo-American charity. The Community House was one project that benefited from the foundation and was built in 1958 to provide a place in the village where everyone could meet and hold social events. It has a Norfolk reed thatched roof and pargeted walls and sits opposite the village pond.

007 Bond coincidence

The Community House was looked after by Mr and Mrs Burgess who moved from Fulham after Mr Burgess, who worked for the Sunday Times, was told about a job vacancy there for a caretaker. Apparently, he heard this from Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond novels, who was also working for the newspaper at that time. Fleming was a good friend of the Bryces’ and often visited them at the mansion. It is thought that he put the finishing touches to his book, From Russia, With Love, while staying at Moyn’s Park.

Past times and the Moot Hall

The Moot Hall is yet another listed building on this walk and dates from the 16th century when it was the village grammar school. It is a tiny two storey building which today, doubles as a library and meeting room. Upstairs is a collection of photographs depicting village life in a bygone age.

Walk directions

Walk through the lych gate of St Augustine’s Church and continue ahead to the far right corner of the churchyard to pass beside a metal gate leading into a field. Following the waymarker, head diagonally right across the field to another fingerpost, pass through a hedge gap and join the right-hand field edge path.

After 200yds (183m) at a hedge gap, turn right and keep to the left of the hedge along a downhill, grassy path. Look out for where the footpath later veers left towards Moyn’s Wood cutting off the field corner as this is not waymarked. At the hedge gap take the wide, grassy path to the right of woodland and follow the field edge as it curves left. At a fingerpost a few paces further, turn right and continue downhill to the right of a hedge, to a road.

Turn right and after 150yds (137m) turn left at the hedge gap and look out for a waymarked path on the right through a belt of woodland. Cross a metal footbridge and then bear left to reach a field. Turn left along the field-edge path and where the path curves left, bear right across the field corner to cross a plank footbridge. Keep ahead long a cross field path and go through a hedge gap onto a lane.

Turn left and keep ahead for 0.75 mile (1200m) with views across open countryside and turn left at a public footpath sign along an enclosed grassy path. Cross a footbridge over a brook and keep ahead between gardens to reach a road.

Turn right and at the road junction bear left along Chapel Street. Pass the Fox & Hounds pub and the Moot Hall and turn left into Finchingfield Road. Where the houses end, turn left at a public footpath sign painted yellow along the left edge of a field. The path curves right at a footbridge and continues beside a ditch.

At the far end turn left and after a few paces, turn right and cross a plank footbridge immediately followed by another on the left. Bear left keeping to the right of the hedge.

Pass though a hedge gap and turn right at a fingerpost to enter Moyn’s Park though a large metal kissing gate. Keep ahead across the long paddock and go through another kissing gate then along a grassy path lined with young oaks. Join a metalled track and pass to the left of the Tudor mansion. Bear left at the triangular green and once through the kissing gate next to the gatehouse, turn left, past Birdbrook Community House opposite the village pond, to return to the church.

Additional information

Grassy and gravel tracks, country lanes

Arable farmland, park and woodland, extensive views

On a lead through Moyn’s Park

OS Explorer 210 Newmarket & Haverhill

In front of St Augustine’s Church, Birdbrook

None on route

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About the area

Discover Essex

Essex is full of pleasant surprises. It has the largest coastline of any county in England, with its fair share of castles, royal connections and scenic valleys. Take Colchester, for example, which was built by the Romans and is Britain’s oldest recorded town. Its castle contains the country’s largest Norman keep and yet, a stone’s throw from here, East Anglia’s newest arts centre promises to put Colchester firmly on the map as Essex’s capital of culture.

Tidal estuaries are plentiful and their mudflats offer migrating birds a winter feeding place. Essex was known as the land of the East Saxons and for centuries people from all over Europe settled here, each wave leaving its own distinctive cultural and social mark on the landscape. Walking a little off the beaten track will lead you to the rural retreats of deepest Essex, while all over the county there are ancient monuments to explore: 

  • the great Waltham Abbey
  • Greensted, thought to be the oldest wooden church in the world
  • the delightful village of Pleshey has one of the finest examples of a former motte-and-bailey castle
  • Hedingham Castle, magnificently preserved and dating from the 11th century.

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