Combs: Enjoy hills and hidden valleys

Heading down to Combs church

Heading down to Combs church - Credit: Archant

Cyril Francis takes a stroll around Combs and Little London

Route of the Combs walk

Route of the Combs walk - Credit: Archant

This popular walk takes you around the scattered parish of Combs and the adjoining hamlet marked on the map as Little London. After a stretch of urban walking, you encounter a surprising amount of slope and variety, including some steady hill climbs and a couple of hidden valleys. Elsewhere you’ll find the site of a former tannery and an impressive 15th century parish church.

Leave the car park, turn left and head towards the mini traffic roundabout in front. Pass the Gladstone Arms pub on the left and, after crossing another roundabout, quickly turn right to join Lavenham Way. Continue along a footway and ignore a right turn to Hillside. Carry on and take the next turning right along Lindsay Way.

Continue to where the road curves left and then turn right in to Naughton Gardens. Follow the footway through to shortly emerge on to Church Meadow, a local nature reserve. Turn right and take the meadow’s lower edge, which is later bordered by a fence on the left. Away to left on higher ground is the large parish church of St Mary’s Combs, standing relatively isolated from the local centre of population.

Curve left at the far end and exit right by a bridge over a ditch. Turn left to join Church Lane and steadily climb up a winding hill, passing the local cemetery and Combs Hall Barn as you go. Continue ahead to reach Holy Oak Barn. Pass a small building on the left and quickly go left as signposted. A narrow path, bordered by wooden fences, takes you to a gate and path junction.

Turn right here and continue along a broad farm track. Bear left ahead and continue beside a field edge with a ditch and, shortly a hedge, on the right. Just before the hedge finishes, turn right through a gap and afterwards swing right and left to join a surfaced lane. Just after passing a row of cottages in front, turn right as signposted beside a large pond. Keep forward and enter a cultivated field.

A break-field path now runs towards an electricity pylon and continues downhill. Away to the left is an extensive range of buildings situated on the site belonging to a former tannery – more of which later. At the field bottom, enter and cross a stretch of pasture and afterwards turn right on to a permissive path. Follow the permissive path to where it later curves left; pass through a metal barrier and head up a grassy path to reach the Battisford road.

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Cross straight over, turn left and continue along a footway. Pass Webb’s Close and afterwards arrive opposite the site of the former Combs Tannery. Before production ceased in 1988, the tannery produced items such as hose, machine belts and leather fire buckets. Standing beside the road is Tannery House, one-time home of the Webb family - the tannery’s former owners.

Continue ahead, pass some light industrial units and take the next turning right leading to a field edge path. This path borders Combs Park on the right and later emerges at Mill Lane. Turn left here and climb up the steadily rising lane. In about another 500 yards look right for Oak View cottage. Turn right here to follow a partially enclosed path that eventually brings you out on to the Bildeston Road.

Turn right and in a few more paces swing left as signposted to join a downhill path. Turn left at the bottom and continue on another permissive path to reach the junction with Jockey’s Lane. Turn right and continue along a track that later becomes surfaced, joined by Jack’s Lane coming from the right. Continue round a left-hand bend and afterwards turn right to join a concreted road.

Keep straight on for the next 400 yards or so and then turn right on to a break-field path, with the farm buildings at Boyton Hall in front. Continue along the path, turn right at the boundary and keep following a descending green margin. Cross a sleeper bridge and turn left at the field boundary ahead.

Stay on this path, which later swings left and right and afterwards heads towards a wooden bridge. Cross the bridge, walk through a lengthy stretch of thin woodland and emerge in a green area.

The way ahead now goes beside a running brook, later to emerge beside Combs Lane. Turn right here and return to the car park ahead on the left.