Wickhambrook Walking Group

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Wickhambrook Walks

This walk has the distinction of going through the area of the highest point in Suffolk. This is supposed to be in Stanstead Great Wood but this does not agree with the contours on the Explorer 196 Sudbury, Hadleigh and Dedham Vale Ordnance Survey map which show a higher point to the west. The circuit also takes you down part of the drive and through the grounds of Kentwell Hall. The distance is almost 7 miles. Don’t be put off by the mention of crossfield paths. All are short and should be obvious and cleared during the growing season. There are several possible wrong turnings so it is advisable to take a copy of the above map for reassurance.

This series of walks have been put together by Roger Medley.

If any of the walking notes are confusing or inaccurate or the information is wrong, please contact Roger. If they are helpful, or if you have any other comments, likewise.

The Wickhambrook W.I. Walking Group meets every Wednesday morning at 10am starting from the MSC car park for walks in the village or slightly further afield. We walk for about two hours and cover about five miles, depending on how much chatting is taking place and there are usually six of us, although we have had a dozen occasionally, and dogs are welcome too.

Walk 23 - Stanstead Walk

MAP » you might find it useful to view the map using this link »larger version« where you can also change the view from Streep Map to Satellite Map to view the route across fields, etc.

ROUTE » Park in the car park beside Stanstead church to be found up the hill from the Boxted to Long Melford road. There is a bench on the little green. The church is usually open, through a side door, and framed cases on the walls show pages from the Book on the Mass written in the 13th Century.

Follow the circular walk waymarks through the churchyard and head down the hill between post and rail fences. There are good views across the valley to the left. Ignore a path to the left and reach a field.

Within 20 paces the right of way veers left through a growing crop cutting off the field corner. On reaching the far side continue ahead downhill along the field edge with a wood on your right – a bluebell haven in May. Ignore options to the left and right.

You will eventually go down the grandest set of steps you will ever see on a public right of way to reach the road. Cross with great care, turn right and take the left fork road towards Glemsford. Once across the second road bridge you need to turn left and follow a ditch and a row of tall poplars which eventually lead to the infant River Glem further along the valley.

The official right of way continues along the road for a further 100 yards, turns sharp left from a concrete apron on the bend, crosses the field and then continues inside the perimeter for some distance. Locals follow the ditch edge and you should do the same. The path (on both the 24th January and 16th March we spotted an egret in this area) includes quite a steep drop down a bank and what appears to be a missing footbridge (This is due to the divergence between the official right of way and the regularly walked path. You may be able to step across the ditch or you may need to walk uphill for a short distance to find a culvert).

Ignore all turning options until you reach a wooden footbridge on the left and a Stour Valley Way sign indicating a path across low lying meadows. DO NOT take this option but take the uphill cross field path to the right 40 paces before this bridge (circular walk waymark). On reaching the far side continue ahead with a hedge on your right.

Follow waymarks through the hedge and head downhill. At the hedge and field end turn left (no waymark just for a change) and shortly turn right (waymark) to head across another short crossfield path to join a vehicle track. This skirts and then enters (left turn) the most pleasant grounds of a rambling bungalow.  Ignore a restricted byway to the right and follow the circular walk waymarks to cross the River Glem.

Walk through an uncultivated area with a young hedge on the left. Reach a minor road where you turn left and almost immediately right (opposite Parsonage Farm) on another footpath. Follow this sheltered path through a marshy area into a field on the left and keep the hedge on your right as you trudge uphill.

Cross a footbridge so that the hedge is now on the left. At the hedge corner continue ahead (waymark) along another short crossfield path to reach the road. Turn left for 80 paces and then take a green tunnel footpath on the right. This leads across a field end and you are then faced with large arable field.

The path should be marked (bamboo canes and a waymark when we were there). Head out into centre of the field for 120 paces where you meet a track at right angles (and probably enormous hoof prints) Turn left to find a vehicle track behind the hedge at the far side.

This is probably a throw-back to the days of smaller fields and the subsequent removal of hedges to make room for the larger farm machinery, but the right of way remains. (It is possible to turn right at this point - the middle of the field - and head into Long Melford for refreshments, then re-join the route on the drive to Kentwell Hall but this will add another two miles to the total distance).

Turn right and follow this track until confronted by a squeeze stile (waymark) between two oaks on guard duty. Further squeeze stiles lead you through a series of small paddocks in the grounds of Kentwell Hall. Long Melford church is obvious on the right. The last paddock could contain cattle or sheep.

In March several Longhorns (Kentwell boasts various rare breeds including Suffolk horses – hence the enormous hoofprints - and sheep) were in residence. These are impressive beasts but very docile. One had just calved but even then did not seem concerned by human interlopers. The ‘stile’ (more of a ladder of metal bars) from this last paddock has to be climbed. Turn left along the drive to Kentwell Hall.

Just before reaching the entrance gate go left through a 5-bar gate and divert (official path diversion waymark) around the actual gardens. There are good views of the hall. Go through a second gate. There could be more livestock in this paddock. Follow the vehicle track but turn right before going through a third gate and head for another squeeze stile in the far corner. Rejoin the vehicle track and continue ahead.

You now have a longish stretch of track walking, almost a mile, ignoring waymarks on either side until you reach an old farm yard and buildings (Kiln Farm). Ignore a possible right turn just before and pass between collapsing buildings and a pond on the right to find a green track veering left, right, left accompanying a ditch on the left.

This continues as a headland track for some while passing into a second field and reaching a wood. Do not enter but follow the perimeter right and then left and left again (waymarks) all the while continuing downhill until you reach a vehicle track which leads to a minor road. Turn right and towards the top of the hill (finger posts pointing in both directions) climb the steps and cross 2 small fields to return to Stanstead. The church and car park will be facing you on the left.

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