Melton: To Ufford and beyond
PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 July 2013
Richard Tyson makes a one-way walk then takes a pretty train ride back
Getting there, start and return: Drive or use the hourly train to Melton railway station, free car park just beyond the level crossing. GR 287603. Trains back are hourly, usually at six minutes past the hour from Wickham Market station, which is at Campsea Ashe not in Wickham Market town.
Map: O.S. Explorer 212.
Distance: 6.25 miles
Refreshments: pubs near Wilford Bridge, and in Ufford. Shop and pub at Campsea Ashe.
Route walked on June 17, 2013
The walk starts at the wooden gate immediately beside Melton level crossing (from the car park go beside the pond). Steps lead onto the river wall. Turn left so the River Deben is on the right. Wading birds are common on the mud when the tide is low. Continue towards Wilford Bridge, soon seen ahead; the bridge is modern, built about 1938 to replace an older structure. Cross the road and go right over the River.
Thirty yards beyond the bridge a footpath sign leads down to a boardwalk (part of the Sandlings Walk) through reedbeds with woodland on the right. Reach a tarred lane and turn left.
Continue past display boards for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Bromeswell Green Reserve and when, half a mile further, a T-junction is reached, turn left along Summer Lane. Now you will see a footpath sign ahead pointing left; go down that track keeping left (waymark here) at the entrance to Summer Lane Farm then bending right on a grassy track beside a hedge and past two big ash trees. Now you can see the tower of Melton Old Church across the Deben near the Ufford Mill house, which is the limit of tidal flow on the Deben; the church was built near the river so that stone from France or Northamptonshire could arrive by boat.
A signpost now points the way to the left through willow trees then right over a footbridge which leads to a railway foot crossing (good visibility). Cross a stream and follow the path on the right through the water meadow. The Deben River main stream is soon on the left before lovely Ufford Bridge is reached.
There used to be a popular swimming place here, especially when beaches were closed in the 1940s. Turn left for 150 yards towards the White Lion pub (Archant Best Community Pub 2012) then take the footpath opposite the pub. Emerge in the churchyard. If the church is open you can see the amazing font cover but in any event do not miss the stocks at the churchyard exit. The stocks are no longer used, due to health and safety rules.
The second phase of the walk starts here. Turn right then right again past the parish hall and continue into a path (waymarked as East Suffolk Railway Walk). Go left after the footbridge and follow the conifer hedge on the left; pass a stile and cross a field to a signpost at the opposite corner next to a thatched cottage. Turn right, ignoring Spring Lane (left) and East Lane (right) but go uphill for 25 yards to take a signposted footpath on your right in to a sunken path.
This is the start of a long straight path for nearly one mile; the path opens out and you go straight ahead over two large fields then beside a hedge. When a third field is reached (beside a huge compost heap when I visited) there is a decayed waymark diagonally right across the field to the corner of woods ahead where there is a line of young trees. The gap in the hedge leads to a track ahead with the grounds and Loudham Hall and park on the left.
At the end of a new wooden fence with a waymark in high grass you turn left along the field headland (not descending to the Farm ahead!); the path was a little overgrown along the field edge but continues to an exit at a minor road. Turn right downhill.
Pass Park Farm and continue on the lane to a footpath sign where the road goes right and your route is the path on the left. Cross the main Deben where Decoy Pond is not visible down river then go through a gate and grassy field to a meeting of four paths. Turn right up through woodland and turn right at the top for 150 yards then left across a field. Campsea Ashe is ahead. Bear left when you reach a hedge. Do not cross the railway but keep straight on with the line on your right until your emerge in a road of closed houses ready for demolition. At the road ahead go right and pass the Duck and Dog pub before you reach the railway station.
Now it’s time to join the train; sit on the left to enjoy pretty views of the Deben valley which are not seen from any road.
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