Work for Wet Nose Publishing’s Essex Countryside Dog Walks book took me to Castle Hedingham this morning. It’s a place I haven’t been since my mid-teens when I had a crush on Nik Kershaw who at that point despite his commercial success lived in a terraced house in neighbouring Sible Hedingham. I craned my neck out of the car window in vain but my disappointment was tempered by the fact that the well preserved Norman castle made for a pretty good day out.
If you’re tempted to visit, check the website first. The castle and grounds opens again when the new season commences at Easter but there are special snowdrop events planned for a couple of February Sundays:
Located just west of Halstead in the Colne Valley, the de Vere family were responsible for building the keep and also established a nunnery near the gates. Later, one of the family gained the right to hold a market in the town and founded a hospital as well. The village flourished and many of those timber-framed buildings survive to this day. It’s well worth a stroll. There’s usually road side parking available down Bayley Street and St James’ Street but you might want to think twice about trying to tuck in down the narrow gaps that form Churchponds and Castle Lane. Once parked, take time to savour some of the architectural details on the houses and attractive shops.
The countryside surrounding Castle Hedingham is largely given over to arable cropping though there are places where you’ll see (or hear) creatures such as sheep, chickens or geese. Despite the chill, even in winter it’s a pleasant walk on a dry day so long as you wrap up appropriately.
Access across the countryside is possible via a narrow and muddy path towards the back of the castle but mostly you’d be walking on graded farm tracks and field-edge paths like this one.