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The Clare and Cavendish Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 11 Apr 2014 Rating :

Suffolk, Clare
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales

Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty:
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A 7.5 mile circular trail from Clare, Suffolk. There’s plenty of interest along the way taking in the two historic settlements with lots of pretty cottages, churches, museums, antiques centres, shops, cafes, pubs, a castle and a dismantled railway – more than enough to make a full day out. The paths between the towns follow long stretches through peaceful arable farmland with fabulous views.

The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout. The paths follow field edges and farm tracks and can be very muddy in winter and after periods of rain. You will need to negotiate a number of kissing gates plus four stiles. The first stile has a squeeze gap alongside (suitable for all dogs and slim humans!), the middle two have dog flaps within (plenty big enough for a labrador or equivalent) and the final one is only about 30cm high (so most dogs should be able to hop over just fine). Whilst the vast majority of the route follows arable field paths, one field is likely to be holding sheep and one field is likely to be holding a small herd of beef cattle (including a bull in April and May). This field is very large and the path across it is short and the farmer describes the cows and bull as docile but, as always, take particular care if you have dogs with you. There are a couple of short sections along quiet country lanes so take care of any traffic at these points. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

Clare is located close to the Suffolk/Essex border, about 9 miles from Sudbury. The walk starts and finishes from the Clare Castle Country Park pay and display car park on Malting Lane. The fee is £2 for the whole day (correct Spring 2017). Approximate post code CO10 8NW.

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Walk Sections

Start to Hermitage Farm

Start point: 52.0764 lat, 0.5821 long
End point: 52.0868 lat, 0.5876 long

Leave the Clare Castle Country Park car park via the vehicle entrance and follow Malting Lane as it swings right to reach a T-junction with the A1092. Cross over with care, turn right along the pavement and then take the first turning on the left, the High Street.

Beyond the first row of shops, you’ll pass some timber-framed houses on the left. Further along on the right you’ll pass the town sign for Clare and behind it the white-washed 1473 cottage, Clare Ancient House which is now part holiday cottage and part museum. The house has an external floral plaster decoration known as pargetting. Clare has a long and fascinating history, with Clare Castle first recorded in 1090. During the medieval period Clare became a prosperous town based on cloth making and by the 1470s Suffolk produced more cloth than any other county. There are more than 130 listed buildings in the town. Continue past the Church of St Peter and St Paul also on the right.

Beyond the church you’ll come to a T-junction, turn left onto Callis Street passing the Old School to the left. Continue straight ahead along Callis Street, swapping to the right-hand pavement when it is safe to do so. Continue as the road becomes Bridewell Street passing a number of old and thatched cottages.

After passing the property, The Hollow, on the left, turn right into the side road called Hermitage Meadow. You’ll notice here the properties also sport the floral pargetting. Where the road swings left, keep ahead on the concrete track signed for Hermitage Fisheries. Follow the track over a stream and then past the entrance to the fisheries on the right. Ahead you’ll come to the buildings of Hermitage Farm.

Hermitage Farm to Country Lane

Start point: 52.0868 lat, 0.5876 long
End point: 52.0907 lat, 0.6204 long

Follow the track in front of the farmhouse and then swinging left around the barns. At the track fork, keep right onto a track which passes to the left of a storage tank. Keep ahead onto the narrow path through the hedge passing under a pylon to reach the corner of a crop field.

Turn left along the field edge, heading steadily uphill. In the top corner, fork left through the hedge and you’ll emerge into the next field. Turn left, following the hedge on the left. In the corner, swing right following the line of the hedge. Where the hedge on the left turns away, simply keep straight ahead on the grass track through the centre of the crop field. Take time to enjoy the expansive views here which stretch for miles around.

At the end of this field keep ahead as the track continues with a hedge now running to the left. Continue straight on, passing to the left of farm buildings, Houghton Hall, and you’ll see a junction of paths marked with a signpost. Keep straight ahead, following the right-hand edge of the crop field. Half way down the slope, follow the track as it dog-legs right then left now following the hedge to the left.

Continue on the path down to the end of the slope and turn right along the bottom of the field. After about 200 yards, look out on the left for a gap in the hedge. Turn left here, crossing over the footbridge to reach the field on the opposite side of the stream. Keep ahead for a few paces and then follow the path as it dog-legs right, over a sleeper bridge, and then left along the left-hand edge of this field. Follow this path steadily climbing. The path leads you up past a pair of cottages to the right and out to a T-junction with a quiet country lane.

Country Lane to Primary School

Start point: 52.0907 lat, 0.6204 long
End point: 52.0873 lat, 0.6315 long

Turn right along the lane, passing in front of Mumford Cottages, taking care of any occasional traffic. Follow the lane as it bends left, then right, then left now heading for the houses visible in the valley. About a third of the way down the hill, turn right off the road onto the signed footpath which follows the left-hand edge of a crop field.

In the field corner you’ll come to a junction of paths. Turn left across a sleeper bridge and then, a few paces into the field, take the path between 10 and 11 o’clock across the centre of the field. At the far side, join the narrow path with an old iron fence to the right. Follow the path as it swings left passing Cavendish cemetery to the right.

The village of Cavendish has strong links with Baroness Cheshire, better known as Sue Ryder. She was a volunteer in World War II and later established the charity of her own name. A home in Cavendish was established for concentration camp survivors and later to provide general nursing care. Sue and her husband, Lord Cheshire are buried in Cavendish.

At the end of the path cross the stile (or use the gap alongside) and you’ll emerge with Cavendish Village Primary School on the left.

Primary School to Pentlow Mill

Start point: 52.0873 lat, 0.6315 long
End point: 52.0866 lat, 0.639 long

Keep straight ahead passing the school to the left and the large village green to the right. You’ll come to the road within Cavendish, Peacocks Road, with St Mary’s Church opposite. Cross over, turn right along the pavement and follow the road swinging left passing a pretty collection of pink thatched cottages.

At the T-junction, keep left, following the Cavendish High Street. On the left you’ll pass The Maltings, an old malt house with its sack hoist still visible. A little further along on the right you will see the bus stop and post box.

Immediately after this, cross over to turn right down the gravel driveway, signed as a footpath. Follow the drive as it swings left. Pass through the wooden vehicle gate and a few paces later, as the hedge on the right ends, turn right down the signed footpath. This footpath leads you along the edge of a private garden – don’t worry, this is the correct route!

As you reach the stream ahead, turn left and follow the line of the stream down to the right. Do not cross the first bridge (this is private). The path then continues now with a fence to the left and leads you over a wooden footbridge across the stream. You’ll see a stile directly ahead and the water for Pentlow Mill beyond.

Pentlow Mill to Bower Hall

Start point: 52.0866 lat, 0.639 long
End point: 52.079 lat, 0.6253 long

Cross the stile (the mesh panel is a dog flap), into the field which is likely to be holding sheep (the small brown ancient breed with horns, British Soay, when we crossed). Take a moment to appreciate the setting here, with the weir within the river ahead and a beautiful line of plane trees running to the left. Walk at about 10 o’clock and follow the line of the River Stour on the right. When you reach the brick river bridge ahead (dating from 1886), cross the stile (with identical dog flap) to reach the road.

Turn right, crossing the bridge and then join the raised concrete sleepers along the edge of the road. Keep ahead on the edge of the main road, taking care of any traffic, entering the county of Essex. Pass some cottages, fork right down the road signed to Pentlow then turn immediately right down the farm track signed as a bridleway.

Follow this track along the right-hand edge of a crop field. A little way in the track dog-legs right then left to continue along the left edge of the adjacent field. At the field corner bear right on the narrow path between trees. Beyond the trees turn right along the field edge and then follow this path as it swings first left and then right. A little further along, fork right onto the wider grass track and follow this staying close to the hedge on the left. Keep ahead through the collection of barns, Bower Hall.

Bower Hall to Hickford Hill

Start point: 52.079 lat, 0.6253 long
End point: 52.0726 lat, 0.592 long

Beyond the barns keep straight ahead on the quiet tarmac lane. Follow the lane as it swings left, ignoring the concrete bridge into the field on the right. A few yards later turn right onto the track between trees, signed as a bridleway.

Follow this pretty track with the River Stour visible down to the right. The banks on the left are a haven for wildflowers and are also home to a healthy population of badgers. Over to the right you’ll see the square Regency building, Cavendish Hall set within trees. Completed in 1802, it was home to Thomas Halifax (once Mayor of Chester). Today, its 30 acre estate remains intact with lodge, coach house, walled garden, English landscape park, woodland, garden and pleasure ground and can be rented as a holiday cottage.

Follow this path as it becomes a track along the right-hand edge of a crop field. At the end of the first field keep straight ahead and follow this path for some distance. Eventually the path will lead you under power lines and then, a little further along where the hedge on the right ends, follow the track as it swings right heading steadily downhill.

You will come to a T-junction of tracks with the River Stour ahead. Turn left along the track and follow it all the way out to the road, Hickford Hill.

Hickford Hill to End

Start point: 52.0726 lat, 0.592 long
End point: 52.0765 lat, 0.5822 long

Do NOT take the path opposite, instead turn right along the road taking care of any traffic. As the road begins to swing left, turn right onto the signed footpath across the centre of the crop field. At the far side of this field keep ahead across the river footbridge and cross the low stile into the field (which is likely to be holding cattle).

Take the path at 11 o’clock heading between the hall and the brick barn. To the left of the brick barn, pass through the tall kissing gate and you’ll emerge to a bridge over the New Cut section of the river. If you glance to the right you’ll see the old mill workings here. Keep ahead on the gravel driveway which passes to the right of the Mill House, an impressive square hall.

Follow the lane across the bridge (with a dismantled railway below) and then take the first left into Bailey Lane. As this road bends right, fork left down the tarmac path and swing right to join the dismantled railway as it crosses the waterway (with riveted steel railway workings still visible). The railway came to Clare in 1865 but Clare Station, along with all other stations on the line between Shelford and Sudbury, was closed in 1967.

Keep straight ahead across the wooden footbridge and then fork left across the grass to join the elevated path, an old station platform. You will pass the old station buildings. Keep ahead for a short distance further and you’ll emerge to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author Claire and may not be reproduced without permission.

3 responses to "The Clare and Cavendish Trail"

This walk was great although we did it from a lovely little pub in Cavendish we completed the 8 miles had a fantastic day.

By Vikingbulldo on 31 Mar 2018

great walk. lovely cup of tea at the end!

By Fionajos on 01 May 2017

great walk! glad it was a sunny day

By West on 18 Feb 2015

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There are currently 3 comments and 0 photos online for this walk.

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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