Cyril Francis follows an undulating route with stunning views

East Anglian Daily Times: Route of the picturesque Polstead walkRoute of the picturesque Polstead walk (Image: Archant)

Starting from the picture-postcard village of Polstead, this enjoyable walk passes close to Gifford’s Hall and afterwards makes its way to the hamlet of Withermarsh Green. The undulating route features a mix of cultivated fields, wooded slopes, parkland and leafy lanes. Later on, there are stunning views over the Box valley to enjoy and afterwards a gentle descent of the iconic green mound at Bell’s Hill.

With the Cock Inn on the left, continue ahead along Rockalls Road for the next 400 yards or so. Nearing the bottom of a slight hill, pass a detached house and immediately afterwards turn left at a restricted byway sign. Continue along a delightful sunken earth lane, enclosed by hedgerows on either side.

Shortly reach a four-way junction and turn right. Keep forward on a stony track beside a new-ish fence on the right and a paddock fence further ahead on the left. Keep following the track to where it now gradually curves left, noting the massive girth of a nearby chestnut tree. Pass New House Farm and keep on a gravel track as it slowly veers left to reach a concreted road and onwards to a minor road ahead.

Cross straight over the road, enter a cultivated field and follow a lengthy stretch of path that heads towards a large tree. Enter the next field containing a crop of oilseed rape, passable at time of walking, to meet the corner of a hedge and an oak tree. For the next 800 yards or so, continue along a broad field margin accompanied by a mature hedge on the left. Ignore a path going left and shortly reach the field corner at the far side. Go briefly left through some trees to arrive beside a road junction.

Afterwards turn right to join a minor road signed Polstead and Stoke by Nayland. Carry on along the road, reach a road junction beside a grassy triangle and turn left onto a leafy lane. Later pass the entrance to Beckett’s Lane Cottage on the right, continue along the road and descend to the bottom of a shallow valley. Pass Newlands Barn on the right and continue ahead for the next 400 yards.

Look for a signed footpath on the right and follow it over a sleeper bridge and through a kissing gate into pasture. Immediately turn right, walk beside a woodland edge and make for the far right corner. Go left through a kissing gate, head up a track and just before reaching Gifford’s Hall, turn right to join a surfaced driveway. Follow the latter, surrounded by parkland, to later meet an avenue coming from Gifford’s Hall. Bear right, maintain direction and eventually meet some wrought-iron gates to reach the hamlet of Withermarsh Green.

Carry straight on, bear left ahead and pass a red post box sited beside the road. At a junction ahead, follow the road signposted to Stoke by Nayland and Polstead. Go past Pond Cottage and in another 100 yards just before the road bends left, turn right onto a field edge path that leads to Long Wood. Reach the woodland’s far corner, turn half-left and cross a cultivated field, aiming for a hedge gap the other side.

Cross a road and continue on a track with some iron railings on the left and woodland on the right. Just before reaching a complex of farm barns, go half-right and follow the waymarked signs that lead to a woodland glade. Continue ahead for 200 yards or so to reach a path going left and right in front of a mature hedge, with a narrow road beyond. Go left here, look for and go through a hedge gap, afterwards turning left along the road.

In about another 120 yards turn left onto a signed restricted byway. After about 50 yards turn right, walk between fences and later cross a minor road. Go right and quickly left and continue straight ahead on a grassy path. Pass through a kissing gate and turn half-right down a slope, afterwards walking along the top of an embankment.

Pause awhile if you wish on a wooden bench and admire superb views over the Box valley before descending a grassy mound that leads to Bell’s Hill corner. Cross a stile, maintain direction and in about 50 yards turn right along a narrow path running between fences. Pass through a small thicket, cross a stream and head up a path accompanied by pasture on the right. Keep straight on and later emerge in front of the village green and your point of departure.