Distance: 4 miles / 7 km / 2 hours
Terrain: Fairly flat, minimal road walking, 6 stiles en route, all within the first mile
Start: Mill Green Common car park GR638 012
Map: OS Explorer 183 Chelmsford and the Rodings
Parking: Mill Green Common car park, just off Ingatestone Road
Refreshments: The Cricketers pub is en route and a little further up Ingatestone Road is The Viper pub.
Turn right out of the car park at Mill Green Common, past The Cricketers pub and turn left down the footpath by the post box on Hardings Lane. By the large gates on the left, turn left over a stile marked Mill Green Circular Walk. This is also part of the St Peters Way, which is a 45-mile, long-distance route between Chipping Ongar and St Peters on the Wall chapel at Bradwell on Sea. The path runs by a field into a woodland. Climb the next stile and continue ahead. Follow the field edge round to the right. Keep an eye out for a path off to the left in a gap in the hedge. Cross the bridge and stile and walk ahead following the yellow arrow across the pasture. Head for the field gate to the right of the cottage, cross the stile and go straight over the track in to the woods.
The woods and this part of the Common are full of pits and hollows. The ground around here is excellent for making pottery and bricks, and kilns have been found nearby. Potter Row Farm which you just passed, probably derives its name from this industry. The pottery made here, Mill Green Ware, was produced in some quantity in the period c1270-1350, with a thriving export trade to the London markets. During WW1 the area was used as a training ground, the Southern Army Trench Warfare and Bombing School, where numerous soldiers put into practice the techniques they were taught in theory classes in nearby Ingatestone.
Follow the arrows through the woodland out to a lane. Turn right and walk down the footpath signposted as Richards Cottage. Go down the driveway, past the house and over a stile. The path forks, take the left one along the edge of Box Wood. A lot of the trees in Box Wood are hornbeam, recognisable by their smooth bark and known for their hard wood. Cross the next stile and follow the edge of the woods. Cross another stile and do the same. The next stile takes you out into arable fields; take the path ahead towards the telegraph pole. The path gently heads downhill with views across to Ellis and Parkponds Woods, both are Local Wildlife Sites. The path eventually meets a lane.
Turn right then left on to the next path opposite the second cottage. Head to the left of the copse and as you go over the rise youll see the entrance in to the next field among the trees. Cross the bridge and follow the path beside the field and then through the crop. At the end of the field, cross the bridge and enter Ellis Wood, looking out for deer.
At the first wide woodland ride, cross straight over on to a well-trodden track. At the edge of the woods, by the fingerposts, turn right and then left on to Cock Lane.
At the road, turn left then right on to Metsons Lane, by the wood yard. Keep walking past the yard and alongside Barrow Wood. After going past Barrow Farm, now a riding school for the disabled, the track turns back in to a lane and meets the road. Go straight across the road on to the footpath opposite.
The footpath comes out on a surfaced track, turn left and head back to the road. Cross the road on to the bridleway opposite and back in to the woods. The track eventually becomes Maple Tree Lane, keep ahead at all junctions. When the road, after km, turns left, go right on to a bridleway back on to Mill Green Common.
Mill Green Common was part of ancient Writtle Forest, a royal forest, which included a Hermitage for a monk who was appointed by the King. The Common was one of the plains on the outside of the forest and is designated as an ancient landscape by Essex County Council. This part of Mill Green is heathland and is a very rare habitat in Essex. There are information boards in the car park which explain the history and ecology of this remarkable area.
The Ramblers/Ingatestone Pedallers Social Cycling Group