Melford Hall 'Escape to the Country' circular walk, Long Melford, Suffolk
A Suffolk countryside circular ramble and photography amble. Enjoy typical Suffolk countryside views including open fields, gently rolling hills, beautiful vistas, distant churches nestling in the countryside and clear running brooks. At times, all you will ‘hear’ is total peace and quiet. Look out for Kentwell Hall, picture-box villages, Chad Brook and red poppies in summer. An ideal walk for active families.
Look out for the vibrant red flowers of poppies in summer.
Melford Hall, grid ref: TL866483
Turn right from Melford Hall and cross the road. Follow the pavement up the hill, bear left into Kentwell Hall Park and walk up the long drive.
A mellow, 16th-century, red brick house with a magnificent stained glass window of Queen Elizabeth I. The garden is laid out in the Edwardian style and includes clipped box hedges and yew trees, ponds and a fountain. Melford Hall Park also has a one-mile circular walk.
Just before the metal gates of Kentwell Hall itself, bear left at the signpost and go through a gate, passing a small rotunda on the right. Go through two more gates and turn right, passing the hall on your right. Follow the wide farm dirt track north for nearly 1 mile (1.6km).
A moated 500-year-old Tudor Mansion built with mellow brick. It has extensive gardens and a rare breeds traditional farm. The Starkie Bence family sold Kentwell in 1971 to Patrick and Judith Phillips, who use the house as their home. Patrick Phillips bought the house in 1971 when it was in an advanced state of disrepair. Since that time, repairs and restorations have been funded by opening the house to the public.
At the top of the track, just before Kiln Farm, at the signpost, bear right, heading east. Follow the grassy path past Kiln and Ashen Grove woods to the left. At the end of Brakes Ley Grove (on the right), go left along a distinct grassy path, following it round to the left. Keep the small tree line to your right as though heading for Rowhedge Farm across the open field in front of you.
This walk provides some spectacular views so typical of the East Anglian countryside, with wide open fields surrounded by woods and forests, interspersed by picture box villages.
At the signpost, by a lone tree in front of you, turn right and follow a very distinct path across an open field, heading for a gap in the tree line.
At the gap, continue along the distinct path downhill. At the village of Bridge Street, turn right and then left, crossing a road. Follow the footpath down the hill, passing along some back gardens on your right.
Cross the stile and shortly bear right. Go over another stile and cross the busy A134, heading for the minor road opposite. Follow this and at the signpost turn right, keeping Chad Brook to your right.
A tributary of the River Stour, Chad Brook is a fast-flowing brook with clear running water, combined sometimes with a meandering pathway, sometimes open, sometimes in dappled shade.
Follow the brook along leafy glades and pass a ford on your right. Coming across an open, sloping field to your front, just by a hedgerow going up the hill to your left, turn right, going through a clear gap. Then cross over the brook by a footbridge with handrails.
You might get views of Ford Hall in Bridge Street; a Grade 2 listed 16th century building, lath and plaster/timber-framed.
Turn left, now keeping the brook to your left. Follow the meandering path.
By another distinctive ford on your left, turn right up a slight incline and then bear left by the pillbox hidden in the trees on the left corner. Follow the edge of the field with the trees and the now hidden brook to your left.
This is the home of a purse web spider. It digs a tunnel up to 20" (50cm) into the ground, which it lines with silk. This silken tube extends up to 3" (8cm) out of the burrow and along the ground. The spider, upside down within the tube, bites prey walking on the upper part of the 'sock' and drags it down into the tube and eats it.
As you walk along the flat, you'll see a radio mast off to your right at the top of the hill. Continue along and go past the thin hedge line, heading up the hill to your right.
At the signpost by the second hedge line, turn right and go up the hill, keeping the hedge line to your left. At the top, cross the busy A134 again and keep straight on along the concrete track of Hare Drift.
The poppy, symbolic of the First World War battlefields, flowers from June to August, reaching a height of between 8 to 32" (20 to 80cm) tall. Reduced use of pesticides mean we can now fully enjoy the beauty of what could technically be termed a weed.
Go through the Cherry Lane Garden Centre and arriving in Long Melford High Street, turn left and follow the side of the road until you return to Melford Hall. Stop in the tea-room for refreshment if it is open.
Melford Hall, grid ref: TL866483
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