Walk: Witham River, Essex
Peaceful, tranquil and bursting with wildlife, Witham's river walk is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll
This sleepy waterside walk is known as Witham's secret treasure and runs for four miles alongside the River Brain.
The way was formed in the early 1970s as a way to bring a touch of elegant countryside through the middle of town. Wander through wetlands, amenity grassland and meadow areas along flat pathways suitable for all.
The River Walk
1. Beginning at Chipping Hill Bridge, drop on to the river path and walk south.
Continuing on the trail, you will soon arrive at a peaceful stretch of the river completely shaded by overgrown trees. You will come across a small bridge – as you cross it, take a moment to appreciate the peacefulness of the path, where all is silent save the sound of the trickling stream in the background.
2. After about a mile, you reach the duck pond. Surrounded by graceful weeping willows, this is a delightful space to sit and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, and a wonderful refuge for wildlife-spotters.
3. Continue on the path and you will eventually reach Witham's nature reserve, Whetmead. This area sits in isolation, surrounded by the River Blackwater. As you look around, you will notice endless fields of rough meadows, overflowing with vibrant wildflowers. The highest point of the reserve reveals superb panoramic views across the whole of Witham, a perfect ending to the walk.
Wildlife along the way
If you happen to be walking early in the morning, just as the sunlight is beginning to break through the trees, you may be fortunate enough to see baby otters floating along the winding stream.
Occasionally, as you’re strolling down the path, a flash of blue will cross your vision. If you're lucky may then see a friendly kingfisher perched upon a nearby tree. Look closely and you can see its beady eyes studying the stream, ready to swoop down and catch its prey, before returning calmly to its branch.
3. Mandarin Duck
Over the past few years, these delightful birds have been spotted swimming effortlessly on the water's surface. Decorated with a green and purple crest and a stunning red bill, these ducks bring a touch of vibrant colour to the pond.
4. Munjac Deer
This small and unusual looking deer can be hard to spot. You may glimpse their copper fur through the trees while walking along the river. Loud barks indicate that one is near.
Learn more about Whetmead nature reserve.