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The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford

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The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford
Author: Steve Hallam, Published: 26 Apr 2017 Walk Rating:star1 The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide star1 The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide star1 The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide star1 The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide star0 The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide
Suffolk, Lavenham
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford
Length: 10 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford Walking Guide
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This 10 mile circular walk in Suffolk offers a gem of a nature conservation area, the best preserved Medieval town in East Anglia, two of the most impressive 'wool' churches, and two Tudor mansions. However, it also involves some distances across 'arable prairie' and along roads. It begins in Lavenham, which is roughly mid-way between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, and 15 miles north of Colchester. The outward leg follows an old track bed. The return leg of this walk provides some attractive views and green lanes, but it does not reach the heights of the outward leg. The outward leg could be done as an 'out and back' walk if you prefer. Alternatively, note that the Lavenham buses also serve Long Melford. Therefore you could park in either Lavenham or Long Melford, do the outward bound leg of the walk, and then use the bus to return to your car.

The route uses a combination of an old trackbed, field paths and margins, green lanes and roads. About 2 miles is on public roads and there are a couple of road crossings that need care. The route is mainly on the flat, it is easy walking, but parts of the old trackbed are normally wet - very wet, where the old drainage infrastructure has collapsed. Boots are advisable in all but severe drought conditions. There are several gates on the walk plus two stiles and one field with sheep - but these stiles can easily be avoided, if necessary (just follow the details in the relevant paragraph). It is a good walk for dogs that don't feel the need to crash through undergrowth (not helpful to wildlife), but note the amount of road walking. Allow five hours for this walk, although there are plenty of tempting, time-consuming, distractions at both ends.

I started the walk at the front of Lavenham church, on Church Street, but it could be picked up at the start of Hall Road. Parking in Lavenham can be 'challenging', especially on summer weekends. There is a free (but a £2/3 donation is asked for) car park on Church Street by the Cock Horse Inn (CO10 9SA), and more parking in the Market place by the Guildhall (CO10 9QZ). There is also on street parking. Lavenham is served by two Chambers bus routes - 753 (Bury St Edmunds - Sudbury) and 754 (Sudbury - Colchester).

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Walk Sections

Start to Lavenham Walk Fence
Start to Lavenham Walk Fence

Start point: 52.1058 lat, 0.7921 long
End point: 52.1039 lat, 0.7645 long

From the church, walk down Church Road towards the town. Just past the butchers, turn left into Hall Road. After 200 metres, turn right into Park Road. After 380 metres, take the signed Lavenham Walk (which is an old railway trackbed), through a metal gate on the left. (Ignore a signposted footpath on the left, just before this).

Walk down the trackbed path, passing under a brick road bridge. The next section of the path can get very wet. You will notice that the cutting opens out and feels quite different to what has gone before. A notice at the end will tell you that this is a section of (artificially created) rare calcareous grassland, which is now being managed to encourage wild flowers and insects.

The path passes through a fence barrier to enter a wood.

Lavenham Walk Fence to A134 crossing
Lavenham Walk Fence to A134 crossing

Start point: 52.1039 lat, 0.7645 long
End point: 52.0931 lat, 0.7317 long

The path carries straight on, albeit a little overgrown in places. It leaves the trees to run down the side of a field, with the wood continuing on your right. At the far side of the field, the path enters a 'tunnel of trees' (it is still following the old trackbed). This tunnel opens out into another grass field, to run down the hedge on the left boundary of the field. When I tracked the walk, this field was carpeted in Cowslips.

At the end of this field the path swings right, crosses a stream, and then swings back left to run along a grassy field margin. Turn right, to walk up the side of the first hedge you come to (there is a signpost, but it has rotted and fallen over). Walk up the gentle slope on a grassy track. When a hedge appears in front of you, go through the signed gap in it and then turn right (as arrowed) to walk along the other side of the field boundary hedge and ditch. At the end of the hedge turn left, as indicated by the footpath arrow.

Walk down this next side of the huge field and, at the end, go through the gap in the hedge to cross the busy A134 by-pass. The continuing footpath on the other side of the road, is just to your left.

A134 Crossing to Slough Farm
A134 Crossing to Slough Farm

Start point: 52.0931 lat, 0.7317 long
End point: 52.0861 lat, 0.7708 long

Once across the road, follow the obvious path that crosses the arable field. At the other side, turn right to follow the ditch. Just before the farm, turn left to cross the ditch and then turn right to follow the path to the road.

Turn left to walk down the pavement. After just less than 100 metres, cross the road to take the signposted footpath off on the right. Follow this path to a stile, and cross the sheep field beyond to a second stile. Over the stile, turn left to walk down the drive, back to the road. But before you do, look right, up the drive, to view the privately owned Kentwell Hall. This magnificent building is the reason for this slight detour. (If you wish to avoid the stiles and the sheep, do not take the footpath off the road - instead, continue to walk down the pavement until you reach the garden centre.)

At the end of the Kentwell Hall drive, cross the road and turn left for just a yard or two, before turning right to walk down the lane towards the entrance and car park of the garden centre. To the right of the car park entrance is a concrete track running straight on through trees. Take this track and follow it to the A134 by-pass. (Note that, if you turn right when you reach the end of Kentwell Hall drive, to walk down the road, you will soon come to Melford Hall, another fantastic Tudor mansion, owned by The National Trust. On the other side of the large green is Long Melford church.)

Cross straight over the A134 and, on the other side, turn immediately right, onto a signposted Bridleway, to walk along the other side of the road. The bridleway soon swings to the left to reach a hedge, then turns back right and continues down the slope with a row of trees and shrubs on both sides. The path crosses a stream and comes to a grass field. Turn immediately left to walk alongside the stream (ignore the more obvious path that runs straight on in front of you, across the field). The path comes out on to a concrete road, which you walk down to reach a road junction.

Turn left at this junction, to walk up the road to Lavenham. The verges on this first stretch are narrow, but the road is wide and usually not too busy. Once you leave the trees, the verges are wider.

Follow the road for about a kilometre until you reach a signposted By-way on the right (ignore the signposted footpath on the right you reach 40 metres earlier). Follow this green lane until you come to a farm. Turn left, in front of the farm buildings, to access a concrete track.

Slough Farm to Track Junction
Slough Farm to Track Junction

Start point: 52.0861 lat, 0.7708 long
End point: 52.1021 lat, 0.7716 long

Follow the concrete track to the road and turn right. At the end of the garden of the last semi-detached cottage that you pass on the left, the road swings to the right. At this point take the signposted By-way on the left. It is the track that bears slightly left, into trees, NOT the one that goes straight ahead across the grass field. Follow this green lane, then a track, until it comes out on to the road again. Turn left, to continue along the road.

After about 180 metres, take the signposted field path that strikes off left, across two large arable fields. It is very visible, unless you are unlucky enough to walk it the day after the field had been ploughed. You head for the house ahead of you, in trees. The field path ends at a junction of tracks, where you turn right.

Track Junction to End
Track Junction to End

Start point: 52.1021 lat, 0.7716 long
End point: 52.1059 lat, 0.792 long

Walk down this track to a tarmac lane, and turn right to walk along this lane. After about 300 metres, take the signposted footpath on the left. This crosses an arable field and then goes through a wooden pedestrian gate to become a fenced path, and then a grassy track, to reach Hall Road.

Turn right to walk up Hall Road to the front of the church and the start of the walk.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by the author SteveHallam and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "The Lavenham Walk and Long Melford"

Enjoyed the walk!

By MyloandMe on 15 Mar 2018

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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