Somersham to Colne

Here's the perfect walk for a calm sunny day, ambling through ancient meadows and along field edges to the site of an ancient church. Walk along orchards heavy with apples and plums. Woodland areas are full of wildlife and wild flowers.

Watch out for yellowhammers in field hedges. Lots of historical interest. Colne has some attractive buildings. Great options for a peaceful picnic, a great value pub garden lunch or refreshments in one of the best value and most English of tearooms around.

This 4.5 miles, 9,500 steps, route is easy walking through fields of golden wheat in summer and pleasant villages. Orchard blossom in spring, fruit in autumn. Good honest pub food at the half way point, or a lovely location for a picnic. Wildlife and historical interest. The walk is exposed if weather very windy or wet. The route is shown below on the Ordnance Survey map. You can also zoom in on a satellite view of the walk at Google Maps.

Starting point
There is a free car park in Church Street, roughly opposite the church. Somersham is an Anglo-Saxon settlement. There are few historical buildings left in the village after a series of fires in the 19th century.

Walk out of the car park and turn left to head down Church Street, away from the village centre. At the end of the row of houses on the right, look into the field beyond the gate. Notice how this large area is in a dip? Originally it was one of two wildfowl or fish ponds for the The Bishop's Palace. Located at the far end of Church Street, it was a grand location visited by both King Richard (Richard the Lionheart) and King John around 1200. There  is very little left of the magnificent set of buildings and grounds located on what is now a farm at the far end of Church Street.

Walk on past the turning into Hammond Way on the left. If you look back you'll notice the ground has risen slightly. This is because you are on the palace approach, the rising ground intended to give the horse-borne visitor an impressive view of the approaching grounds and buildings.

Take the next left. For the following few hundred yards you will be skirting the boundary of the palace grounds. After just over 100 yards you'll see a footpath sign on your right, past some cottages. Walk through the stile and follow the route keeping the hedge to your right, skirting the edge of an ancient meadow as shown below. Cross through another stile and over a footbridge. Continue straight ahead along a field edge to another stile.

Through this stile, you now walk over the old railway track and down the other side. Through yet another stile, you reach open fields. Follow the path between the first fields for about 200 yards, including a slight turn to the right.

Point 1
The view has changed somewhat from what is shown on OS maps. There was an orchard and tall trees about 200 yards to the left which no longer exist.

Continue straight on, with a line of trees to your left. The route, as shown below, has a slight bend before it continues straight on for about 500 yards. You'll see a hedge heading off to the left. Jump down a small ditch to follow the track to the left, keeping the hedge on your right.

Notice how wide the track is? You're now walking down what is shown on old maps as the coach track, probably another route into the palace grounds. In summer the air is filled with the song of skylarks. Keep an eye out for yellowhammers, a bird who's numbers are in decline.

Follow the track as it heads towards Colne.

Point 2
You pass the old village cemetery, with remains of a church in the grounds. St Helen's was an ancient church of reasonable size. In 1895 the tower collapsed. All you see now is the south porch, as shown below. It's worth taking a few minutes to sit on the bench and take in the peace and quiet. Great place for a picnic, though I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck in the cemetery on a wild and windy night!

Just 50 yards further along the route, where it turns to the left heading for Church Farm, you'll see a footpath sign heading off to the right into woodland. Follow this as it skirts an abandoned orchard, turning left.

As you come to the opposite corner of the orchard, take the track to the right heading between fields and along the backs of houses.

Point 3
After 400 yards you'll reach a small orchard, some trees being particularly wizened and twisted. Follow the track around some storage buildings. At the end of these turn left, then left again to walk up Colne Road.

Walk into Colne, passing a house on the left with a particularly fine old door surround. After 300 yards you'll reach The Green Man. The pub has an attractive garden, reasonably priced and wholesome food and an attractive range of beers. Note it's shut Monday lunchtimes other than Bank Holidays.

To continue the route, walk up the High Street to the left of the pub. After 200 yards you'll reach Old Church Lane on the left. Before turning left, towards the right you'll find the new church of St Helen's. It's normally left open for visitors to appreciate. Some of the stonework and floor carvings from the ruined St Helen's have been transferred to the new church. Much of Colne village was burned down in 1844, but there remain a few 17th century buildings and one from the 16th century.

Walking up Old Church Lane, follow the route as it turns to the right. The track then turns left. At this point look out for the footpath sign on the right pointing out towards fields. The track is now called Rothschild Way, a new long distance path being created in memory of Charles Rothschild, a pioneer of nature conservation in Great Britain.

Follow the track as it passes buildings of Church Farm on the left. You'll walk between open fields and along a line of tall trees as shown below. Strange that someone should have taken such care about 100 years ago to place these trees here.

Point 4
The track takes a short turn to the right and then left. As mentioned under Point 1, the terrain has changed in this area. The trees that skirted the route for some 300 yards have been cut down, replaced by saplings. Additionally, the orchard once located to the right is now open fields. At least there are still some orchards visible further over to the right.

The route has also changed slightly, and you'll find the track turning sharply to the left to meet our outgoing route at point 1. Turn right to retrace your steps towards Somersham.

Point 5
After crossing back over the old railway track continue along the field edge with the hedge to your left. Rather than crossing back over the footbridge, follow the field edge around to the right, keeping the stream on your left. Almost at the opposite corner there's a stile into Galley's Drove. This is a beautifully natural green lane which brings you to Colne Road.

If you're ready for refreshments, you're just yards away from one of the best value and most English of tearooms around at Chelsea TearoomCranbrook Plants. Very prettily located, surrounded by flowering plants. All lovely tablecloths and fine bone china. The smoked salmon bagels are a bit classy and only £3.50. Ciabatta with two fillings is a similar price. Cakes, quiches, pies, sausage rolls and quality tea and coffee round off the treat. Highly recommended. Turn right out of Galley's Drove and it's a couple of hundred yards on your right.

Otherwise, turn left out of Galley's Drove and after 100 yards turn left again to walk up Somersham High Street to the village centre and your starting point.

Click the Print Friendly button below to print out this walk to take with you. Or for more walks click the 'Return Home' button at the foot of this page. Did you enjoy the walk? Notice anything unusual? Why not add comment below to tell fellow ramblers what you liked about it?


  1. Thanks for this walk, we did it today and really enjoyed it. Also just to let you know that line of tall trees that you walk alongside between point 3 and 4 have been partially cut down. About two thirds have gone so far, we don't know if the rest are going to be cut down or not.
    Best wishes.

    1. Appreciate the positive comment, Jenny. I noticed some of the tall trees had been cut down when I last did this walk a few weeks ago. Such a shame if they all go, as many have in this area. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with them. Regards, John

  2. My girlfriend and I did this walk on Saturday. It was perfect weather and such a great little walk! We'll definitely be walking this again

    1. Glad you enjoyed the walk, Jon.

  3. IMPORTANT NOTE : Chelsea Tearoom closed on Sunday 14 November 2021. More info to follow if a new owner takes over.


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