Rattlesden: Exploring the lanes of sunken earth

A view from the walk around Rattlesday and Shelland

A view from the walk around Rattlesday and Shelland - Credit: Archant

Cyril Francis journeys along ancient byways around Rattlesden and Shelland

Route of the Rattlesden walk

Route of the Rattlesden walk - Credit: Archant

This week’s walk starts and finishes at Rattlesden, a large village set at the bottom of a steep valley. The route takes you along grassy paths and a couple of ancient byways, reminiscent of sunken earth lanes. At Shelland Green you pass the quaint church of King Charles the Martyr, open at time of walking. A winding gravel road later leads to the hamlet of Clopton Green; afterwards a drop down back into Rattlesden completes the walk.

Go past the Brewers Arms pub and join Birds Green in front. Keep to lower road, pass sports pavilion and join concreted path. Pass some allotments ahead and afterwards enter an area of rough grass. Walk along the right edge, cross a stile and turn left on to road. (1) Hereabouts, the unmistakable bright plumage of a kingfisher was seen heading for the infant River Rat, little more than a narrow stream at this point. Go round the bend, quickly turn right and pass Brookvale Farm on right.

Turn right at next T-junction and continue along stretch marked on map as Back Road. In about another 400 yards turn left and join byway named Gypsy Lane. (2) Follow leafy earth lane to eventually reach minor road. Turn right and quickly left to continue along Church Lane, a restricted byway. Flanked by sloping fields, the lane gently leads uphill to reach Shelland Church and Green at top.

Veer left over grassy area and shortly walk between houses and road. Pass large thatched cottage and afterwards cross driveway leading to Rockyll’s Hall. Afterwards turn right onto road, take next road left (3) and keep turning left. Pass farm accommodation area, quickly turn right beside footpath sign and proceed down grassy path to enter cultivated field.

Turn left and follow field edge round to eventually meet fringes of Birds Wood. Carry on straight ahead to shortly find and join gravel surface. (4) Keep following latter and head for distant farm buildings at Clopton Green. Just before reaching buildings, turn left beside lone ash tree and continue on stony track. Where track forks left, turn right and go over ditch.

Pass old farm buildings on left and maintain direction on field edge path. Keep following marker posts ahead where path frequently swings left and right and finally turns left in front of Woolpit road. (5) Take downhill path that leads to bridge at bottom. Turn right, pass village sign on left and continue on footway to emerge beside Rattlesden Church. Follow church boundary wall further in to village and return to departure point.