Take the high road to Hadleigh

Toppesfield bridge. Picture: BILL BALDRY

Toppesfield bridge. Picture: BILL BALDRY - Credit: Archant

Take a walk through the beautiful landscapes around historic Hadleigh. Walked by: Bill Baldry

The walk route around Hadleigh.

The walk route around Hadleigh. - Credit: Archant

Start: Bridge Street car park, Hadleigh - on B1070, by the river. How to get there: Hadleigh is 10 miles west of Ipswich via the A1071. Map Ref: OS Explorer 196 TM 023428. Distance: five miles. Refreshments: Many and varied in Hadleigh town centre

Hadleigh – “An Historic Town”, says the sign as you come into town. “Hadleigh in the hole” some folks used to say when I worked nearby in my younger days – I don’t know if they still do. The River Brett flows gently through the “hole” and this walk follows it for a while before rising up onto the higher ground to the west of the town.

When you plan a walk on paths that you don’t know, you’re never sure what to expect. I hadn’t ever walked these paths before and found a real mixture from gentle riverside path to a steep Suffolk hill and a secluded steep-sided valley. Some paths were rather overgrown with tall summer vegetation but that all adds to the adventure.

Bill Baldry Hadleigh walk, eadt, June 23, overlooking Hadleigh

Bill Baldry Hadleigh walk, eadt, June 23, overlooking Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

From the car park cross the River Brett either by the road bridge or the foot bridge in the corner and follow the Riverside Walk as it meanders slowly through the trees to the ancient Toppesfield bridge.

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Cross the road and follow the river down Tinkers Lane. Immediately before the entrance to the football ground go right on a narrow path to reach the tennis courts at the Layham Road Sports Ground. Circle round to the left, pass behind the building to reach a lane where you turn left. Soon take the lane on the right – the footpath on the other side of the field was overgrown – and continue uphill – very steep by Suffolk standards – until you reach the drive to Hill Farm.

Follow the gravel drive and then maintain direction over a stile. At the field corner go left, pass a couple of trees, then next right to pass a reservoir on your left.

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Maintain direction until you reach a metal gate in the corner of a sloping field then bear left, with wire mesh fence on your left, and descend down some steps into a wooded valley.

Bill Baldry Hadleigh walk, eadt, June 23, the River Brett

Bill Baldry Hadleigh walk, eadt, June 23, the River Brett - Credit: Archant

Follow the boardwalk past the lake on your left and then rise along a sunken path to emerge by Rands Farm. This section comes with a nettle warning, especially at this time of year. After the farm turn right on a broad flat byway and follow this to the next lane.

Turn right then very soon right again. This field is planted with oil seed rape this year and although the farmer has reinstated the path, the crop has now flopped over the path. Difficult but not impossible at time of walking (would be wet after rain) – but the good news is, the crop will be harvested before long and it won’t be rape again next year.

Follow the obvious track down across the next meadow of tall waving grass into this surprisingly steep-sided valley, cross a bridge at the bottom then bear half-right to reach a bench near the top - conveniently placed to rest and watch the buzzards soaring overhead.

Cross a stile to exit the valley and go left. Soon after a sharp right-hand corner look for a tree lined field edge path on the left and follow this beside three fields to emerge by the entrance to Holbecks House.

Turn left, ignore the first footpath sign and continue round the bend in the lane to reach the start of a broad dirt track. Turn right and continue ahead towards Coram Street until you reach the collapsing signpost pointing right to Constitutional Hill.

Turn right and soon have sight of the Hadleigh rooftops and church spire. Follow the path half-right as it drops down across a sloping meadow and into a wood. Emerge from the wood near the bottom of the hill, and then go left when you reach the bottom.

After a short way dip right and left back onto the Riverside Walk and follow this back to the start. (Route walked June 2018).

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