Best Foot Forward: Guided Walks in Suffolk
Cyril Francis' book, Best Foot Forward
has been specifically devised for those who would rather do their walking at a more considered pace. The 12 circular routes range from 2 to 5 miles and are designed to allow plenty of time to admire views, discover local flora and fauna and explore country villages and places of interest along the way - as well as enjoying local refreshment!
The following is a guide to these walking routes - -
1. Mildenhall (Up with the Lark)Walk 1 Mildenhall - The Lark Valley Path
This pleasureable walk takes you from the small market town of Mildenhall
, sitting on the edge of Fenland, to the neighbouring village of Barton Mills. There are several stretches of delightful walking beside the River Lark, once navigable from the Great Ouse at Ely to Bury St Edmunds
. The route also features some lovely water meadows, described by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust
as ‘a network of small, flower-rich meadows and dykes’.
2. Rougham (Grassy Paths and a Thatched Barn)Walk 2 Rougham - thatched barn at Blackthorpe
This walk offers a brief snapshot of Suffolk’s green countryside at its very best. Incorporating part of the Rougham Estate, the route – consisting mainly of grassy paths, a patchwork of cultivated fields, intact hedgerows and specimen trees – is a pleasure to walk. Leaving evocative sounding Mouse Lane, an avenue of oak trees leads to the impressive 16th century thatched Blackthorpe Barn. The building was used for the storage of grain etc, but nowadays functions as an arts centre. Rougham parish church, just across the road from the car park, is well worth a visit, especially to see its hammerbeam roof and unusual bench ends.
Walking in Suffolk
Walking in Suffolk is fun for all ages and levels of fitness. Click on the link above to find out all you need to know about walking around glorious Suffolk, including information on paths and tracks, walking groups, and also guided walks.
3. Lavenham (A Magnificent Church)Walk 3 Lavenham - Lavenham church
This scenic walk starts from the famous medieval village of Lavenham
and soon you are in open countryside, accompanied by peace and solitude – far from the madding crowd. It’s hard to believe that steam trains once made their way through the local landscape. For nigh on 100 years Lavenham was part of the Long Melford
to Bury St Edmunds
branch line that opened in August 1865. Nowadays, the path along the former trackbed has narrowed somewhat in places. Sloping embankments support a variety of plants and wild grasses as part of a nature conservation programme. Elsewhere, there are sweeping views across the countryside towards Long Melford and the Stour Valley. The 141ft-tall tower of Lavenham church dominates the countryside and acts as a useful landmark.
Pocket Pub Walks in Suffolk
Click on the link above for a details on POCKET PUB WALKS IN SUFFOLK by CYRIL FRANCIS - a handy guide to walking in Suffolk including a matching numbered map, details of distance and terrain, places of interest along the way and, most importantly, a recommended pub serving good food.
4. Hadleigh (Taking the Railway Walk)Walk 4 Hadleigh - along the way
When the Bentley to Hadleigh
railway branch line finally closed to all traffic in 1965, it left a wonderful legacy for the likes of walkers, cyclists, nature lovers, joggers and dog walkers. Formally opened on 20th August 1847, the route, nowadays known locally as the Hadleigh Railway Walk, was a triumph for Victorian engineers and navvies. With little more than pickaxes, shovels and horse and carts, they reshaped the natural gradient with high embankements and opened up broad cuttings. The former trackbed has a firm and level surface that can now be walked at any time of year, making it ideal for a leisurely stroll. Nature has taken over the verges, providing cover for small mammals and berried larders for songbirds. On the return leg, the undulating route passes through a tree plantation and cultivated fields before rejoining the railway walk.
5. Playford (The Fynn Valley)Walk 5 Playford - peaceful scene
Although you are only some 2 miles from the urban sprawl of Ipswich
, this enjoyable walk takes you through a tranquil valley setting in a relatively unspoilt area of Suffolk. Part of the route follows the River Fynn – at times no more than a broad stream – as it makes its way from Witnesham to Woodbridge
, a distance of some 11 miles. A path from higher ground descends gently into the valley, giving panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Playford Hall, just off the route, is a beautiful moated Elizabethan house. It was once the home of Thomas Clarkson, who with William Wilberforce brought about the abolition of slavery. The Hall is not generally accessible to the public apart from one or two days when it is open in aid of charity.
6. Alton Water (A Large Reservoir and the River Stour)Walk 6 Alton Water - boats moored at Holbrook Creek
If you like walking beside water, you’ll enjoy this scenic route. Alton Water is the largest area of inland water in Suffolk. Opened in July 1987, the purpose-built reservoir supplies water to Ipswich and south Suffolk. Other pursuits available here include sailing, windsurfing and cycling. The walk includes a stretch of path beside the River Stour
, providing spectacular views over the water and into Essex on the other side. Here you will find an idyllic and peaceful scene, broken only by the tide lapping onto the foreshore and the distant call of wading birds.
7. Shingle Street (A Walk on the Wild Side)Walk 7 Shingle Street - worked out sandpit en route
The theme of this easy walk might well be that of military invasion. Dotted along the remote Suffolk coastline are a number of Martello Towers
– two passed en route. Erected in the 19th century as a defence measure against a possible Napoleonic invasion, the towers later became obsolete and some have since been converted into private residences. Fast forward another century to the events of March 1940. Some locals claim that Shingle Street was the landing site of a secret Nazi invasion. Such is the sensitivity of whatever happened here, we’re not likely to know the truth until official secret files are released in a further 30 years time. The walk itself, mostly on the flat through an agricultural landscape of light sandy soils, takes you to the neighbouring village of Alderton. Afterwards, from along the sea defence bank, part of the Suffolk Coastal Path, there is a spectacular vista of a large open sky and sea to be enjoyed.
8. Snape (Marshland and Swaying Reedbeds)Walk 8 Snape - view over marshes
This is an easy walk, full of interest and suitable for the whole family. Your starting point is Snape Maltings, a complex of red-brick buildings dating from the mid-19th century, once one of the largest barley malting in the country. Since closure in 1965, the buildings have been converted into a series of shops and galleries, plus an international concert hall. Afterwards, the walk heads through swaying reedbeds across marshland, initially following the gently winding River Alde as it makes its way towards the North Sea at Aldeburgh
. A brief excursion into shady woodland follows before returning through part of Snape village.
Kiddiwalks in Suffolk
This new book by Laurie Page contains a series of 20 circular walks between 1½ and 3¾ miles in length and is written specifically with children in mind. Please click on the link above for more information.
9. Framlingham (Iconic Castle and Mere)Walk 9 Framlingham - outer bailey and earthworks at Framlingham Castle
This short exciting walk takes you in and around the old market town of Framlingham. An outstanding feature en route is the superb 12th-century Framlingham Castle
. The walk follows part of the outer bailey and massive earthworks. From the reed-fringed mere (lake), the castle and some of its continuous curtain wall linking thirteen towers can be viewed in an idyllic setting. Inside the castle, a wall walk enables you to encircle the site. The ramparts also offer wonderful views of the moats and outer courts, as well as of Framlingham itself.
10. Dunwich (Blooming Heather and Gorse)Walk 10 Dunwich - colourful heather at Dunwich Heath
This popular walk takes you across Dunwich Heath
(NT), a unique area of low heathland, characterised by light, sandy and acidic soils. It forms part of the Suffolk Heritage Coast and is designated as being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Here you can walk amongst tracts of pink and purple heather – usually in bloom from July to September – that stretch towards crumbling cliffs and the North Sea. You might catch sight of a Dartford warbler, a rare bird that is often seen perched on top of a brilliant yellow gorse bush and at dusk, on a warm summer’s evening, you may encounter the hypnotic churring sound of a nightjar as it searches for insects. In fact, this dramatic landscape is stunning at any time of the year and towards the end of the walk there are outstanding views over the RSPB Minsmere Reserve
11. Walberswick (River, Beach and Marsh)Walk 11 Walberswick - 18th century windmill at Westwood Marshes
This scenic route takes you along the beach, across sand dunes, over lonely marshes and through reedbeds beside stretches of the slow-moving Dunwich River. Here you may catch sight of rare birds such as the hen harrier or hear the elusive booming bittern. After crossing an open access area of heather and gorse, there are picturesque views of the River Blyth and Southwold
harbour to be admired. Walberswick
village offers galleries, craft and gift shops. The annual British Open Crabbing Championship takes place here (usually in August) with children trying to catch the heaviest crab by means of line and bait.
Please also see Walberswick Nature Reserve
12. Carlton Marshes (The Broads in Miniature)Walk 12 Carlton Marshes - pleasure craft on the River Waveney
With the remains of ancient peat diggings set in 120 acres of marshland, Carlton Marshes has been described as ‘the Broads in miniature’. The site, managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust
, has changed little in appearance since marshmen were employed to look after grazing livestock and to keep the dykes in good repair. Public paths take you through the reserve, where you can discover species of wildlife, including rare plants, wild flowers and insects. Old peat pools, such as Sprat’s Water and Round Water provide a pleasant place to pause awhile. The reserve is bounded in the north by the River Waveney, where a short stretch of walking provides scenic views along the waterway.
For more information on Cyril Francis' book, please see Best Foot Forward
You may also be interested in reading the following - - Suffolk Villages and TownsNature Reserves in SuffolkPubs in SuffolkDog Friendly Pubs in SuffolkDog Friendly Beaches in Suffolk
Have you been walking in Suffolk? Where did you go and where were your favourite spots? Please send all your reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org
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