Approximately 14-15 miles in length, the Colchester Orbital is a circular walk/cycle route around the periphery of the town, taking advantage of and connecting some of its loveliest green spaces and off-road pathway networks. The route follows existing public rights of way, linking with cycle paths wherever possible, and aims to appeal to the widest range of users.

The Orbital is not the first iteration of a circular walk around Colchester, but the first to conceive of it as a permanent feature for the town. 

"I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it" (Soren Kierkegaard)

Below: scroll right for a selection of sequential Orbital images from High Woods in the north....


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


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  to receive updates on the project progress or to get involved, please contact us!

The Colchester Orbital INTERACTIVE MAP....

Note, to best view the map, maximize it (full screen).
Use icon (top left) to view map legend. Layers/icons can then be switched on and off.  

Please note also that a dedicated digital map of the Orbital is currently in construction.

Note: the red line shows the principal Orbital route (13.5-15 miles long); the orange lines, spokes out from the centre (at the castle) connecting the town to the Orbital.


The Orbital projects origins and aims




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


“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)

Project supporters

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:


  • Walk Colchester

  • Essex Local Access Forum

  • Colchester Ramblers

  • Colchester Natural History Society

  • Myland Community Council

  • Essex Bridleways Association


The project is also supported by:

  • Cycle Colchester

  • Colchester Green Party

  • A growing team of volunteers and 'friends'

Colchester Borough Council have been active partners since 2015, and the Orbital  is now embedded within the CBC Draft Local Plan, 2017-2033, and part of the 'Better Colchester' initiative 

Friends 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.