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Bourne Valley

Bourne Valley is a site of nature conservation importance.

It is a woodland and wetland site covering 15 acres sandwiched between the residential areas of Mersea Road and Old Heath Road.


There are 4 formal entrances, off Bourne Road, Gilberd Road, Old Heath Road and Barn Hall Avenue.

By road: 1 mile south of centre of Colchester, on Bourne Road, off Mersea Road (B1025). Entrance next to Bourne Mill.

Find on the map

Bus: The  8A, 67 and 67A buses run along the Mersea Road. 66A along Stalin Road.

By cycle: pdf icon Click here for cycle route map [3Mb]


All day, every day


  • Easy access trail on raised level boardwalk linking Mersea Road and Old Heath Road
  • Excellent through route to East Colchester's riverside
  • Good circular walk includes nearby Colchester Cemetery
  • Fishing permitted on the pond
  • National Trust's Bourne Mill
  • Forest Schools outdoor classroom (bookable)


A former mill-brook, Bourne Brook, quickly flows the entire length of the site. The delightful Bourne Mill and Pond - owned by the National Trust - are nearby as is the privately owned Distillery Pond. Underlain by London Clay capped with gravels the soils are poorly drained and loamy. To the east woodland is dominated by fine mature oak trees, to the west by aged sweet chestnut coppice and the brook is lined with willows. Bluebells, pignut, bracken and sheeps sorrel thrive on the drier slopes

A large shallow, former mill pond (Blythe Pond) is surrounded by reedmace and reed sweet grass which provides cover for juvenile toads and frogs. Four species of bat are known to feed over the pond. It is an important local breeding site for waterfowl and amphibians, and supports a significant invertebrate fauna and several species of fish. In summer it is well shaded by waterside plants and overhanging trees including gypsywort, yellow iris, brooklime, amphibious bistort, and crack, white and goat willows. It too supports an interesting assemblage of invertebrates and in places large numbers of Orb mussels live in the bed of the stream.


Since the mid 1990s the Council working with local people has provided and maintained for visitors several entrance and information points, paths, steps, boardwalks, bridges, woodland and pond management, guided walks, clean-ups and litter picking.

Invasive floating pennywort is periodically cleared.