Walk 7 – No hills in Suffolk, there’s plenty here
Walk by Roger Medley
Having travelled almost every footpath in Wickhambrook and several over the parish boundary it is now time to move further afield. This is the first of a series of wanders based on neighbouring villages – those within a 10 mile radius of Wickhambrook.
Hawkedon and Somerton circular walk
ROUTE » Hawkedon and Upper Somerton circular walk.
This walk goes through both villages, up and down several hills, and crosses the River Glem in two places. The circuit includes Snugs Lane, a bridleway used by horses and quadbikes which is considerably easier to climb in dry weather than wet, and Gallowgate Farm, which is like farms were some 50 years ago. The Queens Head pub in Hawkedon is open midday on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but only open evenings for the rest of the week. Since originally walked in 2006 several waymarks have disappeared so you may need the reassurance of an Ordnance Survey map. As is the way with OS maps the area you are exploring is on the very edge of two editions, both 210 (Newmarket and Haverhill) and 211 (Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket)
Leave the car on the green below Hawkedon church. Walk uphill across the grass, passing the pub and part time butcher’s shop on the right. Once over the brow of the hill take a sunken track to the right. This crosses a modest ford and follows a hedge and deep ditch round to the right. At the corner turn left and, after a short distance, turn sharp right (waymark) and follow a narrow path beside a barbed wire fence. On reaching a gate go through into a meadow and turn left to follow the hedge uphill. Just before an obvious angle in the hedge go left over a stile (more a section of fence) and footbridge and re-enter the field you have just left (I know but that’s footpaths for you!) Turn right and follow the hedge and copse uphill. In the next corner, before you walk under the power lines for a second time, spot a hidden stile on the right. Use that to enter a small unkempt field and continue ahead across the grass towards a metal gate with a finger post beside on top of the hill. Once there go through the gap beside and stick to the hedge on the right. Enter a garden (that’s also footpaths for you) and reach the road. This is Upper Somerton high street and a right turn will take you past houses, the church and the village pump. Ignore footpath signs pointing left. At the pump turn right, there are seats if you need a ‘breather’. Follow the left hand hedge until you are directed through a gap (fallen waymark nearby) then follow another left hand hedge going gently downhill. Appreciate the views ahead over the valley. In the next curve use an uphill footbridge on your left to enter the upper field. Continue for a short way with the hedge on your right then obey new waymarks to drop to the lower field. Just before the hedge develops into a small wood use another footbridge on the left to pass under power lines and enter a field. Turn right and continue downhill, until you are directed left by waymarks to cut off the corner of the field (or continue to follow the field edge). Drop down to the road and head up the drive opposite towards Lodge Farm and your first crossing of the River Glem. At the end of the drive continue in the same direction along a shady green tunnel called Snugs Lane. (Some names are spot on) This is a bridleway and as such hosts horses and the occasional motorised vehicle. It can be muddy and, if you are unlucky, slippy as well. Climb up the hill, and it is a hill, until you reach the modern barns at the top. You should turn right, half back on yourself, between barns 1 and 2 (waymark) and head downhill on a grassy vehicle track. This eventually leads, after two gates, to Gallowgate Farm nestling in the valley. This is a farm as farms ought to be – black barns, open fronted lean-tos, rusting machinery, lopsided doors, windows displaying many years accumulation of cobwebs yet contented cattle and calves in straw yards. Turn left in front of a flint and brick wall (faded bridleway sign) and along the lower edge of a small mainly fir wood. Once back into the open stay with the path as it heads alongside the right hand hedge and then veers left up a slope between crops. On reaching the road turn left (a few yards to the right gives a view down the drive of half timbered Thurston Hall and is worth the diversion). Turn right at the road junction, signposted to Stansfield, and go downhill. Take the stile and footpath on the right and drop down to the river. Cross a footbridge and climb another stile (waymark) then walk between hedges soon losing the one on the left. Once up the hill continue round to the right and shortly after the next corner go through the hedge. Turn left down the side of the wood and at the first corner turn right (waymark can be seen from the other direction) across the growing crop heading for finger post on the road. Turn left at the road heading down hill and up again to return to Hawkedon church.
The circuit will take a good 2 hours walking and covers about six miles.
If these notes are confusing or inaccurate or the information is wrong, please let me know. 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. There are usually six of us, although we have had a dozen occasionally, dogs are welcome too.