Ickworth Walled Garden and Canal Walk
Set among 1,800 acres of majestic Suffolk parkland, National Trust Ickworth Park & Gardens is part of an estate dating back to 1702.
The rambling site has a range of varied walks with copious wildlife and hidden twists and turns. One walk in particular offers all sorts of surprises along the way and makes it well worth embracing the odd rain shower or two.
Start off at the porter’s lodge and head towards the deer park where you might be lucky enough to spy some of the resident herd, who roam free across the parkland. Follow the road round and see parson’s pond and St Mary’s church; where it is well worth stopping off for a look at the 13th century alter and wall painting of the Angel Gabriel.
As the road continues past the walled garden, you will be treated to a fantastic view of the Linnet Valley before turning left at the bridge and following the grass path alongside the river Linnet to the canal lake. Look out for a wrought iron gate and you’ll soon find yourself in the peaceful walled garden back at Ickworth where you can rest up in the summerhouse enclosure, the perfect place for a yummy picnic or flask of tea.
Houghton Hall and Clare Castle Country Park
A short journey outside of Bury St Edmunds takes you to the town of Clare where visitors can make the most of a refreshing day out at Clare Castle Country Park; a beautiful place for walks by the river Stour.
There are six circular walks to choose from, all starting from the park and taking you through glorious Suffolk countryside, past beautiful listed buildings. The walks range in distance from 2- 7 miles so there’s something for all levels of stamina. If you want an intermediate walk choose the Houghton hall route, which takes approximately 2 hours and covers 5 miles.
Set off over gently undulating land, past the sites of old medieval homesteads and past ponds that were once fresh springs. There are excellent views of the river Stour as well as Clare common and the Stour valley. Look out for Houghton hall itself, a grade II listed building dating from the 16th Century and mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Keep your eyes peeled for rare wildlife such as Goldfinch, Skylark as well as Roe and Muntjac deer. Don’t forget your wellies and some snacks for this impressive walk, you’ll be proud as punch to have finished it!
Suffolk Thread Trails, Lavenham
Historic Lavenham is breathtakingly beautiful and the finest example of an English Medieval village in the UK, the atmospheric sights are best explored on foot as you weave through the historic lanes and see the past come to life.
This particular trail covers 3 and a half miles and takes 3 hours to complete, but is well worth the effort. Park up at The Cock Inn before following the route along the old railway line, along a pretty footpath past glorious countryside and back past the church of St Peter and St Paul.
Along the way you should look out for the Tenter piece- an area of ground with wooden frames upon which Lavenham’s famous coarse cloth would be stretched ‘on tenterhooks’ to dry and be shaped. Watch out also for the market place, granted charter in 1257 by Henry III, and historically the location of many cloth merchants’ stalls. You must also be sure to visit the Guildhall of Corpus Christi; one of the finest timber-framed buildings in Britain and built around 1530.
Melford Hall, 'Escape to the Country’ Circular Walk
There are some excellent walks that can be taken around this expansive estate, with an abundance of wildlife on show as well as views of the expansive Suffolk countryside for miles around. Families of swans reside in the waterways and well-behaved dogs can be brought here for an exhausting walk.
One route in particular stands out and is perfect for active families. Start off at Melford Hall and stride out onto the long drive at Kentwell Hall, following the grassy path along Kiln and Ashen grove woods. Look out for the pretty village of Bridge Street and the Chad brook stream before making your way back via a meandering path along the edge of a picturesque field. Finish up your walk at Long Melford High Street where you can stop off in the tea-room for well deserved refreshments.
Bury St Edmunds Town Trail
Follow this bespoke trail to explore Bury St Edmunds fascinating past, which follows sections of the St Edmund Way and Bury to Clare walk. Start off in the centre of town and take some time to stroll peacefully around the beautiful Abbey Gardens with its sensory garden, ancient ruins, aviary and tidy footpaths.
Head onto the waymarked St Edmund’s way to Hardwick Heath and crossing the river Linnet on route. Look out for the noble 200-year old Cedars on the heath and take the opportunity to enjoy the wide-open space and lovely views.
Next, pick up a section of the Bury to Clare walk and head to the beautifully landscaped Nowton Park, here you will find good paths that take you around 200 acres of the grounds, designed in the Victorian style. Follow Hencote Lane back to the St Edmund way before returning to the town centre and seeking out one of the many fantastic eateries for a slap-up dinner.
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