Welcome to the VIRTUAL
Suffolk Walking Festival 2021!
Saturday 22 May – Monday 31 May
The Suffolk Walking Festival is one of the country’s largest and longest running walking events. In May we normally have over 100 walks and events for you to enjoy over a 3-week period. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have cancelled this year’s guided event, but are delighted to launch the very first VIRTUAL Suffolk Walking Festival!
The new 10-day virtual festival will have a changing daily programme and sees the launch of a brand new Suffolk Walking Festival podcast.
COMPETITION NOW CLOSED – Complete our survey to enter the draw to win 4 tickets to next year’s festival, a year’s subscription to the Suffolk Magazine and £30 of vouchers for the East of England Co-op!
I hope you enjoy the first Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival and we look forward to greeting and leading you again in 2022.
A message from our patron
Although the Suffolk Walking Festival can’t happen as a group activity this year I`m thrilled it’s going ahead online. Walking is something most of us have been able to do through the lockdowns and so hopefully more of you than ever will have a look and head out on some of the walks that are featured.
I know many people have discovered places near to their homes that they had never enjoyed before – and this is an opportunity to get out and discover bits of our lovely county that you’ve not visited before. It’s also a chance for you to tell us about your favourite bits of Suffolk. Getting into our countryside and enjoying the birds, flowers and wildlife is so good for the soul as we have learnt. Thank you David Falk and team for making this happen.
Producer/Presenter BBC Radio Suffolk
Sunday 23rd May
Welcome to day 2 of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!
Today we go west as we explore the gentle slopes, parkland estates, and peaceful villages of the western side of the county, and enjoy a Clare Balding Rambling south of Bury St Edmunds.
Suffolk Walking Festival Podcast
If you love walking and Suffolk, then this is the podcast for you! In our brand new Suffolk Walking Festival Podcast, David Falk (Festival Director) walks and talks with all sorts of people including authors, broadcasters, wildlife experts, and academics to discover why walking in Suffolk is so special.
For our first podcast we are starting with a chat with BBC Broadcaster and long-standing Patron and supporter of the Suffolk Walking Festival, Lesley Dolphin.
walk of the day
Every day we will introduce you to a different fabulous place to walk in Suffolk. We will tell you a bit about it (including the approximate distance of the walk and roughly how long it might take) and you will be able to download the full Discover Suffolk walks leaflet for a map and other suggested routes in the area. You can find all of the Discover Suffolk walks, plus loads more information about getting outdoors in Suffolk, on the Discover Suffolk website.
Day 2 – Nowton Walks – A Walk in the Park and Beyond!
Distance = Approx. 4 miles (6.5km)
Time = Approx. 2 hours
Nowton (sometimes pronounced locally as “Noat’n”) is a village on the southern outskirts of Bury St Edmunds; the town takes its name from King Edmund, ruler of East Anglia from AD855 until his death in 869 at the hands of Viking invaders, when Edmund refused to abandon his people or renounce his Christian faith and became England’s first patron saint.
Our walks in and around Nowton touch on the St Edmund Way, a long distance waymarked route from Flatford on the Essex border, to Brandon on the Norfolk border. The route passes through places which have links with Edmund, especially Bures where he was crowned, and Bury St Edmunds of course, which was his final resting place and where his shrine at the Abbey was once one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage sites in England.
St Peter’s Church at Nowton, with its amazing collection of late medieval Flemish glass roundels, is part of the St Edmund Way Benefince. Although the church is kept locked, the key holder is always very helpful in opening up and you might like to contact them to arrange for the church to be opened before you go there by calling 01284 388628.
easy going trail of the day
Discover Suffolk has developed 18 easy to follow trails to help everyone get close to nature in Suffolk’s countryside. Each trail is designed to be straightforward to follow and on generally level ground. You can find information about all of the Easy Going Trails on the Discover Suffolk website.
Each day throughout the festival we will pick one of our favourite easy going trails and will tell you a bit about it and give you a link to download the full leaflet. We will also tell you what facilities are available to make your trip easier.
Day 2 – Cavenham Heath – The Wild West of Suffolk!
Distance = 0.6 miles (1km)
Discover the wilds of Cavenham Heath with acres of stunning heathland and woodland landscapes, superb in late summer when the land turns a beautiful shade of purple as the heather starts to bloom.
The heath offers three trails; a Woodland Trail which is a very peaceful easy access route; a Heathland Trail which is more adventurous but offers wonderful views across the Lark Valley; and a Wetland Trail which is a more demanding route alongside the River Lark.
Other than parking, there are no facilities at Cavenham Heath itself – this really is the wilds of Suffolk! But close by are some excellent pubs in Tuddenham.
The Stumpery at National Trust Ickworth
Join Jack Lindfield (Head Gardener at the National Trust Ickworth) for a quick tour of the stumpery, and see the dragon!
Find out more about the stunning house and grounds at National Trust Ickworth at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth
where am I?
Every day throughout the festival we will be asking you to guess ‘where am I?’ We will give you facts about our mystery location and you can find out the answer the following day.
BIG CLUE: all the destinations have Discover Suffolk walk leaflets…….
- The River Lark runs through this village which is home to the only church in England dedicated to the mysterious and beautiful St Petronilla, also named Aurelia, said to be the daughter of St Peter, and today entombed in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
- The church’s longest serving vicar was Reverend Thomas Image, whose fossil collection is housed at The Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge.
You can download your free FAB40 guide (opens a PDF document in a new window) and tick off your activities as you go.
The guide may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Contact us to ask for help and request an accessible format.
ACTIVITY 2 – Wonder at magical bluebells in an ancient bluebell wood
Stretched out between the trees, a carpet of bluebells cover the woodland floor in late April / May. Simply magic! There’s loads of information about plants and flowers through the seasons on the Wildlife Watch website!
stop and listen……….
Take a mindful minute to relax and immerse yourself in a beautiful sound bath every day
Today we have an episode from Ramblings – the Radio 4 show which explores walking and walkers around the UK.
This episode – Gentle Slopes not Rolling Hills – sees Claire Balding and her fellow walkers take in the delights of rural Suffolk, which include a severed head and a drove of hares!
my Suffolk your Suffolk
Every day throughout the festival we’ve asked people to tell us about their favourite Suffolk walk. Here, we will bring you their personal stories about what makes it special and why they love it.
Today Angie Jones, author of “Walks in the Slow Lanes of Suffolk” (published by Sigma Press) tells us about a Glemsford Slow Walk.
It was a sunlit morning in early spring when we walked in Glemsford. Clumps of primroses flowered in the grass verges and chaffinches chirruped in the hedgerows. We parked near the village hall and passing Peverels, a 15th century house, found a footpath across the fields and eventually into a country road. Here we turned right and right again at New Street Farm. Beautiful views of far-reaching, undulating fields stretched away and up to the blue sky. Purple Periwinkles scrambled up the trellis at Millhill Cottage before we came to Millhill Farm where our path led through the farmyard passing a barn full of forgotten treasure! One stile later and we were on a lovely hillside. Across the valley was a tiny, red post van. We continued to the road and turned right towards the village. We found a footpath taking us behind new houses, another field and up a bank into Shepherd’s Lane. We turned left to pass allotments where pickled onions were on sale! Further along the road we took a footpath that led us back to our starting place; a lane by Clockhouse Farm. Rooks cawed loudly in the tall trees at Coldhams as we headed back to the car feeling blessed by the unspoilt beauty of our Suffolk countryside.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice
If you’re using Suffolk’s public rights of way or open access network please stay local, stick to areas you are familiar with, and make sure that you comply with government social distancing guidelines at all times. Please stick to the public rights of way and avoid trespassing.