Ickworth Off the beaten track walk, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
This route takes you off the beaten track to explore areas away from the main visitor routes. The route takes you through diverse habitats and scenery including open parkland with some great views.
The remote areas and ancient woodland provides likely spots for deer sightings while closer to the house, you pass the Walled Garden and church. Ideal for families who like to walk.
Porter's Lodge visitor reception, grid reference TL815617
From the Porter’s Lodge visitor centre take the path opposite towards the Albana Wood, and follow the path going through two 5 bar gates. Just after going through the second gate take the path to the right at the small ‘Albana Wood’ stone. Stay on this path until you reach the large green Trim Trail sign, and then turn right following the trim trail
As the trim trail goes down a left hand slope and you reach a junction, turn right off the trim trail, leaving the woods and go into an open field. Follow the path down the side of the field with the trees on your right and cross the brook on the wooden bridge.
Once across the brook, turn right on to the wide track, and then shortly through a 5-bar gate. Follow this track until you reach the next 5-bar gate, where you will see a cottage beyond the gate, and a bridge to your right. Do not go through the gate but turn left and walk up the hill until you intersect the main track and turn left towards a cottage known as Dairy Wood Cottage, one of 19 on the estate.
Stand and take in the view from the first 5-bar gate; it is quite breath-taking.
As you approach the cottage, turn left across the grass and go through the gate in the corner of the field into Dairy Wood. Stay on this track and don’t take any turns or junctions. You will exit the wood briefly and keep on the track as it re-enters near the edge of the wood. The next paragraph covers the loop into Twist and Horsepool wood, so if you wish you could carry straight on, missing out step 5 and re-joining the walk just a few metres further on at the start of step 6.
Very soon after you have re-entered the wood look for a barely discernible track/fork to your right. Follow this track (which has a ditch on your left), as you go gently up hill. Just before you exit the wood cross the ditch to your left and follow the track through the woods. Take the right fork when you intercept another path and you will eventually meander next to some stagnant ponds to your left (great habitat). Keep going until you reach the main path cross roads; turn left for a short distance and left again on a ‘main path’ effectively doubling back into the same woods. Keep on this path until you exit the woods.
With the relative peace and quiet of this area of the park, it's a great location to look out for wildlife. Birds, lizards, toads, small mammals, birds and herds of deer can often be seen here.
As the path leaves the wood, you will see a clear path between the cropped fields going downhill. Follow the path between the fields to the wide track at the bottom and then turn right. Stay on the wide track for a while. Shortly after passing the ‘White House’ on your right you come to a cross roads. Go straight across the cross roads (stone bridge to your left/cattle grid to your right) and follow the grass track.
With the Walled Garden and Canal lake on your left, turn right through the gate approximately at the centre line of the gardens (opposite the summer house), and head up the hill towards the wood-line of Lownde Wood. On reaching the wood, turn left and walk along the front of the wood with the Canal and gardens at the bottom of the slope and to your left.
The Walled Garden contains the Earl's Summerhouse, built in the early 1800s as well as a wildflower meadow, vegetable beds and school allotments. It's well worth a visit anytime, but the wildflower meadow is particularly stunning in July - August
After approximately one third of a mile, you will reach the meeting of a number of fences and gates; go through the gate into the field beyond and then immediately left into the adjacent field. Go diagonally across this field to the opposite corner and cross over the stile onto the path and turn left back towards the Walled Garden.
Follow this track until you reach the Walled Garden and turn right keeping the wall of the garden to your left
At the end of the Walled Garden take the main road past the church and back up yhe estate road towards the Rotunda and gardens. Go through the 5-bar gate at the top, turning immediately right, and enter the Italianate gardens. Enter the West Wing via the orangery and stagger to the café where you definitely deserve a cake or pudding or two, not to mention a coffee.
Food and drink
You've walked a good 5 miles, so a well-deserved cuppa and cake should be on the cards. Head to the restaurant or, if you've taken your four-legged friend on this lovely walk, head to Porter's Lodge and celebrate with a drink and a piece of cake. Did you know the National Trust scone even has its own twitter account - @NT_Scones - Enjoy!
West Wing, grid reference TL815614
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