Friends of Coombe Wood

Access to Coombe Wood

Although there is unrestricted physical access to the wood, this does not imply a legal right of access. The Village Green status of the majority of the wood does guarantee a legal right of access to those living in the neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is that specified by the Friends of Coombe Wood in their application for Village Green Status for the wood and accepted by the Registration Authority (Essex County Council).

The scope of this neighbourhood is shown by the red line in the Map display below.

Access and Neighbourhood

There are access points at various places around Coombe Wood. The following covers the perimeter going clockwise, beginning at the junction of Rhoda Road North and the London Road, that is the south-west corner. Note that in indicating here that there is access does not imply rights of access other than to those in the neighbourhood. The fifth entrance (with a red background on the map) is unavailable. The remainder (with a green background on the map) lead into the registered Village Green.

  1. Along Rhoda Road North, near the London Road … [Access near the London RoadThis entrance lies along Rhoda Road North, just north of the London Road. It is a narrow path, with some occluding branches near the entrance. i]
  2. at the end of the unsurfaced part … [Rhoda Road North bridleway EntranceThis entrance is on Rhoda Road North near the end of the unsurfaced section. There is a Public Bridleway notice here, along with an information board. The bridleway extends into the wood and joins the main track near its junction with the London Road. i]
  3. and near the surfaced part. [Access from the surfaced roadThis entrance is on Rhoda Road North near the end of the surfaced section. The path leads to the left behind the houses on Rhoda Road North. i]
  4. From St Peter’s Churchyard. [Access from churchyardThere is an entrance to the wood at the south-eastern corner of St Peter’s churchyard. The immediate access is steep and may be slippery. i]
  5. From the Church Road. Currently this route is unavailable. The land is privately owned and is fenced off at the end. The path is also overgrown (although it has recently been partially cleared).
  6. From the end of Coombewood Drive. [Access from Coombewood DriveThe main track in the wood leads from Coombewood Drive to the London Road. These entrances have partial barriers to prevent the access of larger vehicles. There is an information board at this point. i]
  7. At various points along Lake Drive. [Access from Lake Drive
    Of the various Lake Drive access points, this is the easiest, and best underfoot. It is at the far end of Lake Drive, which bends left. The path is then on the left. There is an information board at one of the access points along Lake Drive.
  8. There are access points at several places along the London Road … [Access along the London RoadThe London Road boundary is not fenced and, especially along the eastern part, there is access to the wood. This marker shows is the easiest access point, just east (right) of the house on the hill (Hillrest). i]
  9. Notably, by the track or ride entrance. [Access to the main trackThe main track in the wood leads from the London Road to Coombewood Drive. This entrance has partial barriers to prevent the access of larger vehicles. i]

Who has the rights to use Coombe Wood, and what are these rights?

The wood is private land. Unlike West Wood, it is not wholly owned by the Council nor by any one person. Although contiguous it is owned by a multiplicity of various owners – it being originally sold off as plotlands. The Council still own the land not sold off and there are still some plots of unknown ownership.

The wood is a designated Village Green and as such the residents of the neighborhood have the legal right of access to use the land for legal pursuits and pastimes. The neighborhood is as defined in the Village Green registration as in the map above.

Legally the land owners have the right to ask non residents of the neighborhood to leave as the right of legal access does not apply to them and they would be trespassing. We did not make the law we just have to live by it. Without the Village Green registration (through the Commons Act) we would not have the legal access and rights to use the wood we now have.

The Friends of Coombe Wood do not have the right to manage the woods only to use them. Management of the land remains the responsibility the landowners and they have a right to manage it as they want provided it does not inhibit our access. We do work with the Council and do the occasional litter pick to keep it tidy. We also, when asked by ECC, do some health and safety works like clearing dangerous trees that have fallen across the bridleways.

Essentially it remains one of the few unmanaged woodlands in Essex. The rôle of Friends of CoombeWood is to ensure our right of access and use is not compromised.