Ickworth Monument walk, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
A long circular walk heading towards the monument at the southern end of the park and passing many highlights on the way including Parson's pond, Albana Wood, walled garden, canal lake, family church and Fairy lake at Ickworth.
Ickworth main car park, grid ref: TL810610
Heading towards the main house, take the right-hand fork and bear left through the gate heading towards the walled garden. If animals are grazing please shut the gate behind you. Then follow the road down the hill towards the old St. Mary's family church (now open for visitors), passing Parson's pond on your right. On the horizon you may well be able to see the top of the monument.
A view of Parson's pond in summer. In days gone by there was a parsonage in the vicinity.
When you reach the church, leave the road and head towards the wall, behind which is the walled garden. Go through the five-bar gate (shutting it behind you). Follow the wall to the end and turn right, through the black metal gate into the walled garden beside what is known as the Canal Lake. Look out for bees in summer.
The Canal Lake was dug, and the kitchen garden and summerhouse built, by the 1st Earl of Bristol shortly before 1717. You might be lucky to see a buzzard in flight here.
After exploring the walled garden, return the way you came; exit through the black metal gate, and back-track up the path beside the wall to the five-bar gate. Just before the gate, turn hard right, and after a few yards stop at the bird hide.
Walled Garden and Blue Tits
In spring look out for great and blue tits feeding at the hide. The walled garden is now home to several beehives, which have been installed on the other side of the right-hand wall. This is part of our project to restore this area to how it would have looked 100 years ago, and part of the nationwide 'conserve bees' initiative; Ickworth honey will hopefully be on sale in the shop.
A few yards down, follow the path straight along the valley, enjoying views of the Rotunda to your left. Cross the wooden bridge and walk through a sometimes muddy section, then climb the slope; you're now at the Fairy Lake.
The Fairy Lake was dug between 1842 and 1866 as a boating lake, but now is more a haven for wildlife. With ever-encroaching reed and reed-mace reducing the open water, we're looking at ways to balance the nature conservation value of the lake with the need to clear silt and reeds to ensure the lake's future. You might see a heron here, if you're lucky.
Turn left and follow the dam. Following the red and blue marker posts, turn right at the other side of the dam. After a few yards keep straight on, following the path at the edge of the woods close to the field. Follow it to the top.
At the crossroads, turn right by the sign for Lady Hervey's Wood and then by the next red marker post keep straight on.
Pause and take a look at the Round House to your right. When you get to the end of the path, turn left and then right, following the red marker posts for a fairly long way. This path can be very muddy.
Ickworth Round House
Built around 1850 the Round House was originally used as a shooting lodge and gamekeeper's cottage. It has been completely restored and is now a holiday cottage.
At the end of the field (with spectacular views of the Rotunda to the right), keep right, still following the red marker posts. Now look out for the monument in the field to your left (8a on the map). When you get to the stile, cross into the field and walk across to it.
The monument was erected in 1817 by the people of Derry as a memorial to Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol, who was also the Bishop of Derry and creator of Ickworth House. His remains are buried in St Mary's, the Ickworth family church.
From the monument, return to the stile and turn left back on to the red-posted muddy path and follow for quite a long way. As you cross Chevington field plantation, you might be able to see to your left, Chevington church in the distance. Now follow the path to the gate where it meets the road. Turn right and follow the path past Stoneyhill Wood on your left and Downter's Wood on your right.
There are some stunning views on this walk. This view of Horsepool Farm just outside the perimeter of the Park would make a brilliant painting.
Continue until reaching a cattle grid. Cross the grid and turn left; this is known as the Old Deer Park. Follow the path along the valley to the wooden footbridge, over the stream to your right.
Old Deer Park
The 'old' Deer Park was the first part of the estate converted to parkland. Evidence of the original medieval strip cultivation of the land (called “strip lynchets”) can still be seen. The outline of long, narrow fields going up the hill towards the Albana Wood can still be seen in the way the oaks are positioned in lines, having been retained from the lynchet boundaries. Deer were first introduced to Ickworth in 1706, and currently we have a large population of Fallow Deer on the wider estate, and the occasional Roe Deer or Muntjac.
Cross the wooden bridge and follow the edge of the field to the top, then enter the woods by the orange marker post. Turn right and follow the path past views to the right over the valley; the monument can be seen in the distance.
You're now entering part of the Albana walk. Follow the path, without turning off anywhere, and shortly after the 500-year-old oak tree, turn right. Upon reaching the gate, turn left and then right into the car park and the end of your walk. If you're hungry or fancy a drink, head towards the West Wing café or Porter’s Lodge outdoor café (very dog-friendly).
The Albana walk is worth exploring as a separate walk, with spectacular views over the River Linnett valley. The Linnet is in no way a major river, but it provides water for many species, and also provides what is known as a 'corridor'. Wildlife can use the river to cross the estate in relative safety, using the fringing vegetation as protection from predators. You may notice a higher incidence of small birds along the Linnet where it's surrounded by arable fields. This is due to its properties as a wildlife 'corridor'.
Ickworth main car park, grid ref: TL810610
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