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Hinderclay and Valley Fens

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Hinderclay and Valley Fens
Author: burhinus, Published: 24 Feb 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guidestar1 Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guidestar1 Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guidestar1 Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guidestar1 Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guide
Suffolk, Diss
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Hinderclay and Valley Fens
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Hinderclay and Valley Fens Walking Guide
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A beautiful, relaxing circular walk along a stretch of the River Little Ouse and some of its associated valley fens. Depending on the time of year the walker may be rewarded by seeing a wealth of wildlife, as all of the fens are managed as nature reserves. In spring and early summer wild flowers are in abundance and include; orchids, ragged robin, yellow flag and much more. Little egret frequent the pools and kingfishers can be seen along the river, whilst among the riverside vegetation reed and sedge warblers sing away. It is possible to see otters and this section of the river is also one of Suffolk's strongholds for the water vole.

This walk is fairly easy with just two gentle inclines. There are no stiles on route, just a few single gates to go through. Please note the walk through the fens can be wet and after heavy, prolonged rain the section through Parkers Piece can be impassable. Depending on stops and detours you should complete in 2-3 hours.

Hinderclay lies mid way between the A143 Bury St Edmunds to Diss road and the A1066 Thetford to Diss road. The walk starts and finishes at Hinderclay Village Hall. Approximate post code IP22 1HW. Please park responsibly in the hall car park. There is a bus route through Hinderclay from Bury St Edmunds to Diss, but they are infrequent.

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Walk Sections

Start to Gobbetts Lane Crossroads
Start to Gobbetts Lane Crossroads

Start point: 52.3531 lat, 0.9733 long
End point: 52.3529 lat, 0.9727 long

Leave Hinderclay village hall car park and turn right onto Bells Lane. At the village crossroads turn right onto Gobbetts Lane.

Gobbetts Lane Crossroads to Access Lane
Gobbetts Lane Crossroads to Access Lane

Start point: 52.3529 lat, 0.9727 long
End point: 52.366 lat, 0.974 long

There is a permissive footpath running along the field edge (right-hand side of the road) all the way to the bottom of the field. In spring and early summer skylark can be heard singing and roe deer can often be seen. There is a regular group of up to 10 deer.

Once you reach the bottom of the field you need to turn right, continuing along the right-hand verge of the next field. At the end of this field, and just before you step onto Bells Lane, you need to turn left, remaining inside the field. Walk to the bottom of this field to reach the T-junction in the road.

At this point take the footpath which continues straight ahead up the hill. This is the first incline of the walk, but not steep at all. Continue over the hill. At the top you have a view of the valley below and its fens. Follow the footpath along the left side of the hedge until you reach Fen Road at the bottom of the hill.

You now turn right onto Fen Road and continue for a short distance past Grove Farm. The first lane by the farm is private. You need the second lane on the left. It is signed and as you enter the lane you will see some poultry sheds in the field on your right.

Access Lane to Hinderclay Fen
Access Lane to Hinderclay Fen

Start point: 52.366 lat, 0.974 long
End point: 52.369 lat, 0.9738 long

This short stretch of lane takes you into Hinderclay Fen. When you reach the fen our route takes us to the left, just inside the fen.

Hinderclay Fen to Thelnetham Fen
Hinderclay Fen to Thelnetham Fen

Start point: 52.369 lat, 0.9738 long
End point: 52.3689 lat, 0.9654 long

The footpath you are now on is the Angles Way, a 77 mile footpath stretching from Great Yarmouth to Knettishall Heath and forms part of the longer Around Norfolk walk which is 227 miles in total.

Walking along the fen you will pass stretches of gorse with its yellow flowers, phragmites reed, honeysuckle and clumps of silver birch before entering a wetter section of the fen. Here you may see treecreeper, chiffchaff and blackcap.

As you leave the wet area of Hinderclay Fen the footpath weaves it way around and over a small footbridge. Leave the fen and continue straight over the field into Thelnetham Fen.

Thelnetham Fen to Fen Farm
Thelnetham Fen to Fen Farm

Start point: 52.3689 lat, 0.9654 long
End point: 52.372 lat, 0.9669 long

As soon as you enter Thelnetham Fen you need to turn right. This section of the footpath can be quite boggy after rainy periods. Look out for grass snakes, muntjac deer and little egret.

After a short distance you will approach the River Little Ouse. Turn left on the river bank and you will see a footbridge. This is the county boundary and you are about to cross the bridge and step into Norfolk.

Once over the bridge, turn right into Betty's Fen. You are now walking with the river on your right. Continue along until you reach the edge of the fen and follow the footpath which turns to the left and becomes a boardwalk. This section is called Willy's Walk. Continue along this stretch until you reach Fen Road.

You are now in the parish of Blo Norton. Virginia Wolf visited here as a child and swam in the river. Turn left along Fen Road and continue for a short distance passing Fen Farm on your right.

Fen Farm to Angles Way
Fen Farm to Angles Way

Start point: 52.3726 lat, 0.9639 long
End point: 52.3692 lat, 0.9602 long

Just past the farm our route takes us left back into Blo Norton Fen and on another boardwalk. Here you pass through an old willow bed with some fine examples of crack willow. This is a good area for warblers and tit flocks. You will eventually come back out at the river.

At the river turn right and continue along the river bank. Here in summer you should hear singing reed and sedge warbler, chiffchaff, cuckoo and blackcap. You might be lucky enough to see otter or water vole along the river.

Eventually you will reach another footbridge. This will take us back in to Suffolk and a new fen called Parkers Piece. (Please note: After heavy, prolonged rain this section can be exceptionally wet and at times impassable without wellingtons. It is possible instead to continue along the river bank, turning right over the bridge and walk towards the road.)

From the footbridge you have a view of the magnificent Thelnetham Windmill, which still produces flour today!

The main route takes us through Parkers Piece, so after crossing the footbridge go through two sets of gates. Walk through the trees and veer right over another wooden bridge/platform then swing left along the fence line. You will reach another gate. Pass through the gate and your path heads left. We are back into Thelnetham Fen.

This next section can be very wet at times. Continue along until you reach a lane, ahead is Webbs Fen. Here you turn right until you reach the top end of Webbs Fen where you turn left back on to the Angles Way.

Angles Way to Marked Footpath

Start point: 52.3692 lat, 0.9602 long
End point: 52.3688 lat, 0.9664 long

Continue along the Angles way and proceed through Thelnetham Fen until you reach the point where you first entered this section. Turn right and retrace your steps for a few metres. You need to turn right in this paddock, passing close to the corner of the wood. You should now have Thelnetham Church in your sights.

Follow this well walked path towards the church and eventually on to reach the road. Here you need to turn left.

(For a short extension you can turn right on the road and walk up to the White Horse public house. Worth a phone call to check they will be open and indeed serving food.)

Having turned left on the road, you enter the parish of Hinderclay. At the corner turn left onto Fen Road. After a few metres you will note a marked footpath on the right, heading up the hill.

Marked Footpath to End

Start point: 52.364 lat, 0.9669 long
End point: 52.3596 lat, 0.974 long

Take this footpath on the right and head on up the hill. This is the second incline of the walk. Continue with the hedge on your left until you reach the road. Watch for brown hare, roe deer and rabbits in the fields. Occasionally common buzzard and red kite fly over.

When you reach the road turn left and continue along the road until you reach the junction. You will notice that you have been here before, on the outward leg. Turn right onto Bells Lane.

You can walk on the road or just inside the hedge on your right. Continue all the way up into Hinderclay village. Follow the sharp right-hand bend and continue along Bells Lane until you reach the village hall on your right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author burhinus and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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