THE COLCHESTER ORBITAL
Walk Colchester and Colchester Borough Council are happy to announce the launch of the Colchester Orbital online interactive map, a collaborative project between the community and Council marking completion of the latest phase of work in support of the 14-15 mile Orbital walk/cycle route.
The Colchester Orbital is a circular route around town, connecting some of its most important and beautiful green spaces and off-road pathway networks. The route follows public rights of way, and links with cycle paths wherever possible (see also the Orbital Cycle). We hope it will bring much pleasure around the year, to locals and visitors alike, and offer surprises even to who have lived in Colchester many years...
"I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it" (Soren Kierkegaard)
We are delighted that the first iteration of a dedicated interactive map of the Orbital is now ready for your exploration and enjoyment! The development of the map has been funded by Colchester Borough Council, whilst its conception and much of its early content has been a labour of love, with many people in the community contributing. It is an ongoing and evolving project and we invite the involvement of all interested community members.
The online map, which complements the colour PDF maps of the Orbital route published in summer 2020, enables users to interact with the walk/cycle routes in the context of multiple additional layers of environmental and heritage information, and to find practical information about connecting transport options and other facilities. The two sets of maps - interactive and traditional - are best used together in complementary ways and according to personal preference.
Please note, the online maps, built by local company Smart Networked Environments are currently web-based only. The PDF versions of both walk/cycle routes, with full colour maps and route guidance, are however available via mobiles.
Below: scroll right for a selection of sequential Orbital images from High Woods in the north....
ORBITAL WALK & CYCLE MAPS AND ROUTE DIRECTIONS
The ORBITAL WALK guides (PDF), in 3 sections: East, South and West
MAP-based walk guides with TEXT
Short walk guides, TEXT only
Guide to Orbital Access
The ORBITAL CYCLE Guide, MAP and TEXT (PDF)
Wherever possible the Orbital Walk and Orbital Cycle routes converge. However, different walking and cycling rights of way exist in some sections, necessitating slightly different route maps...
Become a ‘Friend of the Colchester Orbital’
If you would like to be kept informed of the progress of the Orbital project, or are interested in volunteering, please be in touch and we will add your name to the 'Friends of the Orbital' mailing list.
THE ORBITAL ORIGINS & ONGOING ACCESS WORK
The Orbital projects origins and aims
The early planning of the Orbital route, first conceived in 2015, has been the work of members of many local groups with shared green interests, including: Walk Colchester, Colchester Natural History Society, Colchester Ramblers, Essex Bridleways Association, Cycle Colchester and Sustrans.
In 2018, Colchester Borough Council's support for the project was formalised in its adoption as part of the Better Colchester initiative, and subsequent funding of the map’s development.
Inclusive access, route auditing and ongoing work
The Orbital covers a wide range of terrain with mixed accessibility on this account. Nonetheless an important aspect of the project has been that the route should be enjoyed - wherever possible - by the widest range of users (including older and disabled walkers, chair users, and families with young children).
In addition to our work to remove barriers (where possible) or improve barrier design to maximise inclusive access (see our Barrier Audit report below), we have sought to expand the walking horizons of mobility-restricted walkers by:
Providing comprehensive route information, enabling would-be walkers to make informed advance choices.
Identifying meaningful journey sections with higher levels of accessibility (see 'Route sections with higher levels of accessibility')
Extending the range of walk options available by identifying accessible bus-walk-bus journeys from the town centre
Barrier Audit Report
Audit of barriers to inclusive access along the Orbital (e.g. kissing gates, stiles etc), for potential improvement, replacement or removal
The Colchester Orbital Online Map
“Those pathways are still there for my grandchildren as they were there for me and my children. I know every pathway and they hold many happy memories for me (Fiona Broom, local walker)
The early stages of the Orbital project were progressed by members of local action group CGLOS (Colchester Green Links and Open Spaces), whose members are drawn from a number of organisations in Colchester sharing an interest in and concern for the town’s green environment, including:
Essex Local Access Forum
Colchester Natural History Society
Myland Community Council
Essex Bridleways Association
Colchester Borough Council have been active collaborators since 2015, and this was formalised in 2018 when the Orbital project became embedded within the CBC Draft Local Plan, 2017-2033, and part of the 'Better Colchester' initiative. CBC went on to commission and fund the Orbital online map, launching in December 2020.
The project is also supported by:
Colchester Green Party
A growing team of volunteers and the 'Friends of Colchester Orbital'