Lavenham woodland walk, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
An easy walk around the Lavenham Woodland project and part of the old Lavenham to Long Melford Railway line.
Lavenham Guildhall TL916493
Starting from the Guildhall, walk to your left across Market Square then head down Market Lane to the High Street. Turn right at the bottom and cross the road. Continue along High Street for about 300yd (274m), and over the old railway bridge, ignore the sign on the left to 'The Lavenham Walk'. You're now on Bury Road. A little further up on the left-hand-side of Bury Road is the entrance to Dyehouse Field.
It is known locally as the Lavenham Woodland Project; is locally funded by the villagers and planted with nut trees. Once inside the wood you can use the paths to check for butterflies.
Before you start your walk, survey the scene from the bench over to the right of the entrance - it's made entirely from recycled plastic bags.
Apart from ladybirds and grasshoppers, twenty-four species of butterfly have been recorded in Dyehouse Field. One of the discoveries is the quite rare, (or perhaps, little observed) brown argus butterfly in an open area of the site, and so the volunteers are working to develop its preferred habitat. Many other species may also be seen along other sections of the walk. Badger, weasel, field vole, muntjac deer, grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm are just some of the other animals that are present.
After exploring the Project, proceed down to the more wooded section, along the path with the hedgerow on your right. A short distance later take the right hand fork, and after 100yd (91.5m) go over a small wooden bridge at the boundary and up to the Lavenham Railway Walk, turning right.
Lavenham Railway Walk
Many species have been recorded along this disused railway line including common and lesser whitethroat, blackcap, goldcrest, treecreeper, bullfinch, garden warbler and marsh tit, along with records of the unusual, such as pied flycatcher, redstart, whinchat, firecrest, reed warbler, waxwing, little egret, red kite, and this giant snail which is quite rare and lives in the area.
Walk along the length of this track, passing through a metal gate at Park Road and through another gate opposite.
When you reach the old railway bridge, go under it, then use the path that ascends on the right hand side to get up to the road (the Railway Walk further on from here is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and would take you right through to Long Melford). At the top, turn right and head back over the bridge towards Lavenham village. Be careful as you're now going to walk for a while along Bridge Street Road, which can be a slightly busy road at time.
Bridge Street Road views
Bridge Street Road affords wonderful views across to Lavenham Church, sometimes accompanied by the type of sky found in Suffolk that inspired John Constable to paint.
Using Lavenham Church Tower as a landmark to your left, continue along Bridge Street Road until reaching a stand of small trees on your left and a footpath sign. Follow this footpath on to the lane that loops around the back of the church.
Lavenham Parish church
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul is well worth a visit if you have time. Built mainly in the 15th-century, it was built with money made from the cloth trade. Its tower is 141ft (43m) high and is one of the tallest in East Anglia.
Following this lane will bring you back to Lavenham High Street, almost opposite the Swan Hotel. Turn left back up High Street, right up Market Lane and back to the Guildhall, for lunch or tea perhaps.
There's a long tradition of bird-recording around Lavenham, and an intriguing warbler found in 2007 became famous for its appearance in the respected British Birds magazine. Known locally as the Lavenham Chiff-chaff, its song was completely wrong for that species and was believed to have Iberian connections. It left everyone quite baffled.
Lavenham Guildhall TL916493
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