Walk beautiful Bradfield

Bradfield woods

Bradfield woods - Credit: Archant

Chris Barker enjoys a stroll in and around some of Suffolk’s most ancient woodlands

Route of the Bradfield walk

Route of the Bradfield walk - Credit: Archant

Bradfield Woods is unique. It comprises two ancient woods that were once owned by the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, and most of Felsham Hall Woods is still enclosed by the great bank and ditch the monks built to mark the boundary of their property. The survival of the woods is thanks to the efforts of local people.

The walk itself is on mainly well-maintained paths and tracks, although at the time of walking there were two ploughed fields to cross. These can be avoided by two slight diversions. The last mile is walked on permissive paths.

To start, leave the car park through an arch at the right-hand corner. Turn right at a track in front of you, with Bradfield Woods Centre to your left (open April to October). When this track swings to the right, carry straight on. At a crossroads of paths turn right. When you come to another crossroads of paths (this time with a footpath sign to your left) continue in the same direction, soon having a butterfly information board to your left.

At a fork in the paths turn left and when you come to another crossroads of paths (with a blue arrow-marked post to your right) carry on for a few paces and you will emerge from the wood with a footpath sign to your right. Turn right here and follow the path as it swings left. At a footpath sign to your right, carry on in the same direction. When you come to the field boundary the path will swing left for a few paces, then to the right into a small wood. When you emerge from the wood by a footpath sign to your left, carry on in the same direction.

At a footpath sign to your right, look diagonally left across the field and aim for a point approximately 150 yards from the right-hand boundary of the field. At the time of walking the field was ploughed and impossible to cross, so stick to the path you are on.

When you come to a track running parallel in front of you, turn left and after about 150 yards turn right on a hard-surfaced track. You are now re-joining the official path. You will soon come to a metal gate; cross a stile to the right of this. Carry on, on a green track which will soon become a shingle yard. Cross this and you will come to a metal-railing fence with a moat the other side.

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Turn left here along a gravel drive. When the drive swings left, turn right, walking a wide green track which soon narrows to a path through trees and bushes. You will come to another metal gate with a stile to the left. Cross this. The field in front of you had just been ploughed at the time of walking and was impossible to walk. The official path goes to the left-hand corner of this field, but if it is still ploughed there is an unofficial alternative: turn right, walking on a well-used path. When you come to the field boundary, turn left.

At the next field boundary turn left. After about 30 yards turn right through a wide gap in the hedge and then turn right. Once you get to the corner of the field, cross a footbridge. This will bring you out onto a road. Turn right.

Soon after passing the entrance to Old Bird Farm, turn right by a footpath sign. A wide gap in the hedge to your right is the point where the official and the unofficial paths join. Carry on in the same direction, walking on a green path with a wood to your right. When you come to the field boundary, continue in the same direction across a narrow plank bridge. Follow the path as it swings left and right, crossing a plank bridge; still having a ditch to your right. After roughly 300 yards look for a footbridge on your right across the ditch. Cross this and a field in front of you, aiming slightly to the right of some farm buildings.

This will bring you out onto a track. Turn right here, with fields to your right and left. Turn left after a footpath sign to your left at the end of a hedge. At another field, carry on in the same direction. Once across, by a footpath sign turn left, walking on a green path with a ditch to your right. Turn right just before you come to a footpath sign, walking on a wide green track with a ditch to your right.

You will have a wood to your right. After you have gone over a plank bridge, turn right. At a track running parallel in front of you, with a wood and ditch the other side, turn left, walking on a track with a ditch to your right. Just before you come to a hedge in front of you, turn right back into the car park where you started.

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