Stowmarket: Suburbs, woods and a church spire
Cyril Francis follows a route that begins on the edge of town and takes in a varied landscape
This week’s circular walk features one or two familiar well-trodden paths and some others less so.
Starting from the outskirts of suburban Stowmarket, the route takes you through rolling countryside around Combs, including the hamlet of Moats Tye. Along the way there is the option of visiting Combs church and a nature reserve at Combs Wood.
Leave the car park entrance, turn left and cross the roundabout in front. Pass the Gladstone Arms pub on the left, cross over a further roundabout and enter Pikes Meadow opposite. Continue along the right edge and turn right at the boundary onto a footway running beside Needham Road. Keep forward to reach a property named Old Timbers, cross the road and head up a surfaced path through a housing estate.
Turn left at the top and quickly right to pass Combs Primary School. Shortly swing right to briefly walk beside a chain-link fence and then immediately go left along a narrow path running between houses. Keep going ahead and cross straight over Lavenham Way. Maintain direction beside houses where a path now leads to a field entrance.
Head up the edge of a cultivated field, accompanied by a hedge on the left, to reach an entrance to Combs Wood. Take a brief detour into the wood if you wish and later rejoin the present path. Also, a path, shortly going off to the right over a short stretch of cultivated field, offers an optional visit to Combs church.
Keep following the woodland round to the left and continue beside the edge. Further ahead, leave the woodland and keep forward with a hedge soon appearing on the right. Turn right at the corner to enter a new field, walk its entire length and turn left at the boundary to join a narrow lane.
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Pass a property on the right where the lane now develops into a rough access track. Take the next turning right beside an electricity pole and later continue on a grassy path to reach a gate. Here you may have to unwind a rope placed across the gate, to allow access. Continue ahead along the left edge of pasture and find another gate to open and close.
The way ahead now passes through a stretch of green corridor and brings you to Moats Tye. Keep forward, and afterwards veer right to meet a surfaced road. Turn left, pass beside a red post box and telephone kiosk and then continue along the road to pass the Battisford & District Cricket Club ground. Turn right beside the Gardeners Arms pub and continue along the road for about 250 yards, afterwards turning left into a field entrance as signposted.
Pass beyond a metal barrier and keep following the winding field-edge path to reach the bottom of a deep valley. Maintain direction and head up a gently-rising cross-field path to meet Mill Road at the top. With Oak View cottage on the left, walk straight ahead, initially passing between wooden fencing to later emerge beside the Bildeston road.
Turn right here, go forward about 50 yards and then turn left to pick up a field-edge path that descends to the bottom of a shallow valley. The spire of Gt Finborough church, resembling the tip of a sharpened pencil, can be seen to the left in the far distance. Turn right opposite an electricity pylon and continue with a tree plantation on the left. Keep following the plantation edge where it goes straight ahead and afterwards curves left. Later bear right and continue through a green avenue to eventually reach Jacks Lane.
Turn left and quickly right as signposted to pass through a field entrance beside a metal barrier. Keep following the field’s right edge, passing a number of mature trees as you go. Nearing the field boundary, the path swings left and right and continues with a hedge on the left. In about another 150 yards turn left over a wooden bridge to enter and pass through a narrow thicket. Exit the latter to reach a greensward area that runs between the rear of houses. Finally emerge onto Combs Lane, turn right and follow the footway to return to your point of departure further ahead on the left.