Rivers, valleys and hills

St Mary's church, Creeting St Mary, Suffolk

St Mary's church, Creeting St Mary, Suffolk - Credit: Mark

Cyril Francis follows a route offering lovely views across the Gipping Valley

Route of the rivers, valleys and hills walk

Route of the rivers, valleys and hills walk - Credit: Archant

This week’s walk starts from the popular attraction of Needham Lake. After a short stroll beside the River Gipping, the route makes its way to Creeting St Mary. The surrounding high ground along Holt’s Lane and Sally Woods Lane offers sweeping views across the Gipping Valley. Stout footwear is recommended in view of possible muddy paths and deep puddles.

Leave the car park and continue with the lake on the left. Follow a short stretch of Tarmac path to eventually emerge in a large area of short grass. Pass the entrance to a nature reserve on the right and gradually veer left towards a scout hut before entering Crown Street through a gate.

Go past some houses and later swing right over a river bridge with metal handrails. Afterwards turn left and continue along a narrow surfaced path. Follow the path across some grass and continue under a road bridge.

Away to the left is historic Hawks Mill, one of a number of mills that grew up beside the Gipping. Pass a sluice and maintain direction along the river path, which gradually enters more open countryside as it heads towards Badley and Stowmarket.

Continue ahead until you reach a bridge crossing the river towards Ravens Farm on the left. Turn right here, pass over a stretch of uncultivated ground, possible boggy in places, and shortly pass banks of bark-based mulch at Watering Farm on the left. Curve right at the field boundary and shortly turn left on to the road. Turn right and continue beside the road, although the locals appear to stick to the field edge.

In former times you could turn left hereabouts and follow a path up to Creeting Church. However, the path has since been sliced by the A14 road, making it too dangerous to contemplate crossing.

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Carry on to the road junction ahead. Take the footway on the left at Jacks Green Road and pass a small mailbox. Maintain direction, pass the village sign on the right and continue on a rising footway along All Saints Road to pass over the A14. In about another 200 yards turn right to join a minor road signposted to Creeting Hills.

Pass a thatched cottage and shortly turn left as signposted to cross a stile, and afterwards cross a cultivated field. Go over a bridge and follow the left edge where the path soon curves right and, shortly, left further ahead. At a path junction in front, turn right to follow a gently-rising path that leads to College Farm. Enter the farmyard, cross between buildings and follow a sloping concreted area on the right that heads towards a narrow bank. Go down the bank, turn left and continue on a bridleway path marked on the map as Holt’s Lane.

Keep following the undulating path to later cross a watercourse where you veer left as directed by a bridleway sign. Keep forward and head towards the sight and sound of traffic on the A140 in front. Eventually the path curves right and continues between fields before running downhill to meet a three-finger signpost at the bottom boundary. Turn right here and commence a gentle climb up Sally Woods Lane.

Keep following the twisting path and eventually reach a hard surface beside a property named Four Winds. Go left and right and join a road that shortly runs downhill to reach a point previously walked. Carry on to the road junction ahead, turn left and pass over the A14 once again. Turn left at the next junction to rejoin the Flordon Road.

Pass Oakhill Nursery and continue ahead past some houses on the right. Just beyond the last house, turn right through a hedge gap to enter a small field. After crossing the field, turn left to briefly stay on a track coming from the right.

Look right for a kissing gate, pass through and afterwards walk along the left edge. Continue through an open gateway that leads on to a broad path, bringing you to St Mary’s Road. Turn left on reaching the road. continue on a footway and pass the entrance to Alder Carr Farm. Continue straight ahead to join a narrow surfaced path and retrace previous footsteps back to Needham Lake.

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