Within the parish of Hockley there are 21 footpaths recorded on the definitive map ranging from 28 metres to just under 2 kms in distance. It is possible to traverse the whole of the parish north to south and east to west by the use of these footpaths although it is necessary to occasionally use a few metres of public road, open space or permissive paths to complete either of these routes.
Whilst South East Essex with its marshes and undulating countryside is not noted for dramatic or picturesque scenery, Hockley is an exception. Although a typical village green is not available, there is an ancient parish church to admire and there are a number of extremely pretty and sheltered views of the River Crouch and the Crouch Valley from the several hills in the parish. These views are better appreciated when using one of the local footpaths and it is hard to imagine a more idyllic setting than early on a sunny spring Sunday morning, going for a walk and discovering little known paths through bluebell woods. Perhaps even admiring the ancient parish church through trees in the near distance and maybe listening to the sounds of the countryside, much as our predecessors did many years ago – who needs Wordsworth!
Like the majority of the parish councils in Essex, Hockley is a member of the Parish Paths Partnership Scheme, which is an initiative introduced by Essex County Council in conjunction with The Countryside Agency to assist parish councils to maintain, develop and promote their local footpath network.
One of the first projects undertaken after joining this scheme was the “Centenary Walk” in conjunction with Hullbridge Parish Council. The walk was to celebrate the Centenary of the transfer in 1894 of the civil administration from the Church to the Parish and the route encompasses both parishes. The route runs from beside the River Crouch at the Anchor Inn across to Hockley Parish Church, on towards Plumberow Mount and then heads back towards the river, finishing at Hockley Marshes. The route uses footpaths in both parishes and takes approximately 3 hours to complete.
The Parish Council celebrated another important occasion, the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, by way of a local walk using a number of the parish footpaths to produce a circular route and was opened in May 2002. The “Jubilee Walk”, approximately 4miles in length, just over 7 kms, is centred on Hockley Woods and the Parish Church of SS Peter & Paul. Comfortably walked, it should take about 2½ hours to complete.
In conjunction with the village centre enhancements it was decided to provide some form of visual display that would assist residents and visitors to more fully enjoy the local countryside. Thus in 2003 a new addition to the village centre appeared in the form of a permanent sign and map showing all the parish footpaths. The sign is situated on the corner of Woodlands Road and Main Road adjacent to the parish sign, fitting very neatly between the Silver Birch trees and Jubilee seat. Footpath Map
In connection with the sign, a descriptive and colourful leaflet replicating the map is available detailing all the parish footpaths. Copies of this leaflet and separate leaflets for the Centenary & Jubilee Walks are available from the Parish Library and the Parish Clerks office, situated behind the Parish Hall in Southend Road, opposite the Library. Leaflets covering walks in Hockley Woods and other nearby areas are also available – all leaflets are free.
Whilst all members of the public are encouraged to use the local footpaths, the routes are over existing paths and some parts can be a difficult to negotiate. Very muddy and rutted paths, tree roots, steeply sloping paths and stiles when crossing the railway are likely to pose problems for the less able. However most of these areas can be bypassed by use of nearby alternative routes and it is hoped that challenged users will not be deterred from enjoying these particular walks.
The parish council has spent a lot of time over the last few years improving the local footpaths and it is hoped that local residents and visitors will gain as much pleasure in using them, as do the councillors in maintaining them. Maintenance is both continual and costly and volunteers are always welcome especially on wet, cold Sunday afternoons in late November! However, it is rarely that bad, usually sunnier more often than not, with the work and pace being gentle and rewarding.
For further information please telephone: - The Parish Clerk – 01702 207707