Colchester, Essex


Distance: 8km/5 miles  l  Ascent: 79m/259ft  l  Time: 2½ hours  l  Walk type: City and fields 

Enjoying city status since 2022, ancient Colchester lays claim to several superlatives: Britain's oldest recorded town, first town walls, largest surviving Victorian water tower. You could spend hours exploring this trail, which includes the impressive ruins of St Botolph's, one of England’s first Augustinian priories, and Norman Colchester castle.

Navigation: Easy  l  Difficulty: Easy  Type: Circular  

Start/End location: Colchester Station, CO1 1XD (TL990263).   




colchester castle

Getting there

Where: Circular walk around the city of Colchester. Greater Anglia trains to Colchester from London, Norwich and elsewhere. If driving, take A12 from Ipswich or Chelmsford, A120 from Harwich or Braintree and follow signs. 

Maps: OS Explorer 184, OS Landranger 168. 

Eating & drinking: Café Med (07988 462505,; Tymperley’s (01206 7650340, 

Sleeping: Premier Inn Colchester Town Centre (0333 3219352, - search ‘Colchester’); George Hotel (0203 5002070,

Visitor information: In Hollytrees Museum (01206 282920, and at

Guidebooks: Colchester History Tour by Patrick Denney (£8.99, Amberley Publishing ISBN 1445693941). 



  1. From Colchester Station, follow ‘Way Out’ signs away from town centre. Exit and turn left over road. Climb steps right of billboard and keep straight through car park. Turn left along far side towards Three Crowns Road. Continue into tarmac path with bins, just before road, and follow it past playground and allotments. Turn left down Propelair Way and path, right along fence, and left at waymark under railway. 

  2. Keep straight through gate and woods. Cross wide grassy track*. Go down narrow path and keep straight through reeds and over footbridge. Turn right along end of field and left through trees. Keep straight over fields and through gates. Turn left on surfaced track to reach Sheepen Bridge over River Colne. (* After heavy rain it might be drier to turn right on grassy track beyond railway for nearly ½ mile and then sharp left along zigzagging Chase Way to reach Sheepen Bridge.) 

  3. Follow track to main road. Cross (using lights nearby) and continue along Sheepen Road. Turn right opposite school onto signed cycleway/footpath. Before wooded path starts, turn right up steps and left alongside field. At bushes ahead, turn right beside ridge and left on clear path uphill. Keep straight along surfaced path, passing info boards about Colchester during Iron Age and Civil War. Immediately after second board, turn left downhill. Follow path right towards water tower and turn left up Pope’s Lane. 

  4. Cross footbridge over main road. Turn right by Hole in the Wall pub and left through Balkerne Gate, past theatre and water tower. Keep tower on right and walk through Balkerne Passage. Turn briefly right up North Hill and left along High Street. Just after town hall clock tower, turn right into Pelham’s Lane before Tesco. Keep straight past Trinity church and along café-lined Trinity Street. Turn left through shops on Eld Lane, briefly right down Queen’s Street and left into Priory Street to explore St Botolph’s Priory. 

  5. Cross Priory Street car park, turn right next to old city walls and follow them curving left. Continue along Priory Street and turn left up East Hill past Holly Trees Museum. Turn right into Castle Park and left towards castle, right onto raised path and follow it left.  

  6. By summer house, turn right down winding path and walk through park, past boating lake, to reach River Colne and turn left. Turn right over footbridge and immediately left along riverside avenue. Keep going to reach half-timbered cottages. Cross road and bridge. Continue on riverside path (water now on right). After walking under two tunnels, climb up to main road and follow pavement with road on right back to railway station.  


Problem with this route?

If you encounter a problem on this walk, please let us know by emailing If the issue is with a public path or access please also contact the local highways authority directly, or find out more about solving problems on public paths on our website.

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