St. John the Baptist Church at Layer, and Essex Wildlife Trust at Abberton Reservoir

The weather has been really cold recently, but finally today it warmed up enough for us to go out for a bike ride.First we went to Layer de la Haye. We cycled through Abbey Fields and then past Merville Barracks and  up Layer Road. We went past the sad sight of the old Layer Road Football Ground, the home of Colchester United before they moved to the new Weston Homes Stadium.

Then we went past the Donkey and Buskins – where I managed to cycle up the steep hill – well  it seemed steep to me – although I don’t think it really is!

We passed through Layer and out towards Abberton Reservoir.

Before we reached the reservoir though we stopped off at St John the Baptist Church. It’s a beautiful church set just off the road with lovely views from the churchyard of the reservoir.

There has been a church on the site since 1128. The church today is beautifully cared for and is obviously loved by its parishoners. 

You enter the church via the   porch which was restored in  the 14th century . When you are inside make sure to look up at the roof – you will see a really good example of a trussed rafter roof. What is very unusual for an English parish church is the painted roof of the chancel. It is a beautiful blue and  is a wonderful contrast to the plain whitewashed walls of the rest of the church. It makes you think about how bright churches would have been before  Henry VIII’s  Reformation.  

Back outside you can see the Roman bricks  that were used in the tower. I wondered where these had come from – it might have been nearby Colchester.

We then continued on down the road to the Essex Wildlife Visitor Centre at the reservoir. It was fantastic going down the hill – although it wasn’t so much fun going back up it!

The building of the reservoir was first started in 1938 and provides water to the Colchester area. There is work happening at the moment to increase the size of it and it will eventually be about 2 metres deeper. This will mean that the visitors centre  will have to be demolisehd and a new one built on another site.

For the time being though the centre as it is a  great place to go for young and old. There are often activitiies for children to take part in and there are good views of the reservoir for all the bird watchers.

We went for a walk around the wildlife reserve. We went through the Wild Wood which has beeen planted in partnership with the Forestry Commission. At the moment the trees are just saplings – but its wonderful to know that we are leaving a wood for our  descendents to enjoy.

As we were walking through the wood we were really excited to see  a deer!  I don’t know what kind  it was, – it was a long way in the distance but it looked as if it was quite small. Then whilst we were in the aptly named Hare Wood we saw a hare.

After the walk the only thing left to do was cycle home. That wasn’t quite so easy as the outward journey – but I only got off the bike twice  to walk up hills which I’m convinced were enormous! 

Path leading away from the visitor centre


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