Bourne Valley

Bourne Valley is a site of nature conservation importance.


  • How to get there
  • Opening times
  • Facilities and access
  • History, vegetation and wildlife

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.

Bourne Valley (PDF, 1.67MB)

How to get there

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: Click here for cycle route map

Opening times

All day, every day.

Facilities and access

  • 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
  • National Trust's Bourne Mill (fishing not permitted at Bourne Pond)
  • Forest Schools outdoor classroom (bookable)

History, vegetation and wildlife

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 sheep's 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.

Our work

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.

Bourne Valley action plan of works 2022-23

Discover the Bourne Valley Audio Trail

Take a walk on the wild side and travel through time. The Bourne Valley audio trail brings to life three characters from history. Starting just outside the gate to Bourne Mill, you’ll be greeted by Emma Legerton, the Miller’s daughter. Then you’ll discover wildlife with medieval botanist John Gerrard. And finally, you’ll hear from Brother Jerome from St John’s Abbey

  • This urban oasis in the heart of Colchester is full of surprises!
  • Best experienced with headphones.
  • Start point: Near to gate beside Bourne Mill, Bourne Road, CO2 8RT Click for Map
  • You can access the tour via your mobile phone, search for: ‘Bourne Valley Audio Tour’

Download the Audio Trail for free on the Google Play Store here (for Android devices)

Download the Audio Trail for free on the App Store here (for IOS devices)

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