Discover the delights around Debenham

Debenham and Aspall walk, Bill Baldry

Debenham and Aspall walk, Bill Baldry - Credit: Archant

Bill Baldry finds ancient history, modern cider production and the longest ford in Suffolk

Route of the Debenham walk

Route of the Debenham walk - Credit: Archant

The lively village of Debenham has many fine buildings with notable histories - but history can also be found in the surrounding area.

From the car park turn left, through the cemetery and left after the substantial Millennium gates. Follow the potentially wet, hedged Priory Lane for quarter of a mile then ascend three steps and bear right to cross a rising field. Maintain direction across another couple of fields on well walked paths then turn right along a broad grassy path with trees on your left. Enjoy the open views all around.

Go left with a hedge now on your right until the next short field crossing towards Blood Hall and some green topped farm buildings. Blood Hall reputedly gets its name from a nearby bloody battle between the locals and the invading Danes in the 9th century.

Continue ahead on the concrete drive past Blood Hall and by the farm buildings and head west with the 1,000ft tall Mendlesham mast straight ahead. Descend to the road and turn right uphill. The correct path is difficult to ascertain near Red House Farm – there are the remnants of an old stile and a small hole in the hedge near Willow Cottage where you would expect to go but this is obviously not used. There is an old petrol pump in front of Red House Farm and from here I headed across a grassy area to the footbridge in front of a willow tree. You have to skirt round a bramble clump blocking the natural path to the next footpath sign. From there follow the field edge path round to the right until you enter the orchard of the Aspall Estate.

Keep the neat rows of trees, soon to be covered with rich blossom and later bounteous fruit, on your left until you emerge by the Aspall warehouse. Aspall Hall has been crafting cider since 1728 and now exports its different cider brands, apple juice and cider vinegar around the world.

Turn right on the rather busy B1077 for 300 yards then cross and follow the tree lined path with further orchards to left and right. Maintain direction towards Aspall church. Go through the churchyard, bear left and turn right at the road. Follow the road towards Wetheringsett for half a mile passing a wonderfully decaying old cottage that is being taken over by vegetation.

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Where the road swings left carry on ahead along a very pleasant bridleway, then cross a field and turn left at the hedge. In the field corner drop into a spinney with pond and then turn right. The path goes out into the next field and bears right but has been well reinstated and should be clear.

At the road turn left for 300 yards then right down the drive to Bryces Farm until you reach Stony Lane. Go left to reach the start of the longest ford in Suffolk. Follow the footpath beside the road/river for more than half a mile and emerge on the edge of Debenham. Follow the Butts and Derrybrook Lane to Aspall Road then right and left back to start.

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