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
Tuesday 25th May
The Stour Valley
Welcome to day 4 of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!
Today we venture along the Stour Valley and head to some of the Wool Towns – towns that were the centre of the wool trade in the Middle Ages and today are full of wonderfully preserved medieval buildings.
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 second episode David went to the fascinating Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Sutton Hoo, for a chat with novelist and nature writer Melissa Harrison.
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 4 – Leavenheath Circular Walks – Orchard Walk
Distance = Approx. 3 miles (5km)
Time = Approx. 1 hour 45 mins
Leavenheath stands alongside and partly within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Suffolk Wildlife Trust has also expanded their reserve from Arger Fen and Spouse’s Grove further into the village which offers opportunities for wonderful walks.
Leavenheath (originally Leowine’s Heath) became a separate civil parish in 1952, born out of parts of nearby parishes. The village is spread out – Honey Tye in the south; around the High Road, Village Hall and Village Green, west of the A134; on and close to Harrow Street to the north; and around Cock Street to the east.
Our walks link in to all parts of the village. St Matthews Church, built in 1835 and enlarged in 1882, is well worth a visit. The Orchard Walk involves footpaths, tracks and a little quiet road walking. It starts in Honey Tye at the old Lion Pub and takes you through community woodland, stunning countryside, and past ponds and streams.
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 4 – The Valley Trail – An inspiring landscape
Distance = 3.5 miles (5.5km)
Feast your senses in this simply beautiful setting. Once home to Constable and Gainsborough, it’s not difficult to see why this landscape has inspired generations of artists.
The walk follows part of the former Great Eastern Railway, a line that once linked Colchester with Bury St Edmunds. You can wander for up to 3 miles along this level and very easy to follow trail. It also passes through Sudbury riverside meadows, the oldest grazed land in England.
The meadows are a great place to linger and watch the world go by. You are almost sure to see herons, egrets and kingfishers , and on warm summer days enjoy the colours of plants lending with flitting butterflies and darting dragonflies.
Parking at the Kingfisher Leisure Centre
did you know……..
Boxford in south-west Suffolk is home to the oldest recorded shop in England!
You can find out more information about the delightful village of Boxford on the Boxford Village website.
Visit the Stour Valley – Artists and the Valley
Stour Surrounding artists share how the Stour Valley inspires and surprises them. See the magical landscape of the Stour Valley, and hear how East Anglia’s big skies and unique light continue to inspire artists today.
Find out more about the Stour Valley, where to go and what you’ll see at www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org
Visit the Stour Valley – Walking in Lavenham
Katherine Davies (Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stour Valley) introduces the Lavenham Walk. The walk follows the path along the original Great Eastern Railway, which originally ran from Bury St Edmunds to Marks Tey in Essex, and explores the medieval village of Lavenham, Dyehouse Field Wood, and nearby nature spots
Find out more about Lavenham and download the Walking in Lavenham leaflet at www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org
Visit the Stour Valley – Cattawade and the Lower Stour Valley
Join Alex More da Luz from the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stour Valley, and Mark Prina from Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve for a fascinating insight into Cattawade and the lower Stour Valley, a truly beautiful part of south Suffolk. Hear about the wide variety of wildlife that inhabits the lower Stour Valley, including dragonflies, Red Shank, Kingfisher, Water Vole, and many others.
Find out more information about visiting this area at www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org
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…….
- One of the most picturesque villages in East Anglia, the name of this place means ‘Cress Island’.
- It is famed for its history of sheep farming and cloth making.
- There were once 5 malt kilns, 3 forges, 3 pubs, 2 communal baking ovens, and a horse doctor here!
- The 12th century church has a stunning hammerbeam roof with angels.
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 4 – Put a toe in the water down at the stream
Explore how it feels to walk barefoot across a natural stream. Some Suffolk villages have a ford where the stream goes across the road. Find out what to look out for in our streams and rivers on the Wildlife Watch website.
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 Linda Blazey of the Sudbury Ramblers, tells us about a Long Melford to Stansfield ramble
This is one of my favourite local walks. It includes parts of the St. Edmunds Way and the Stour Valley Path and some interesting paths off. Starting at Long Melford Green, it takes in Long Melford Church, Glemsford Church and Stanstead Church. There are grazing long horn cattle, sheep and horses to admire en route and bridges crossing the River Glem.
From the high ground at Stanstead there are very good views over the Glem Valley. It’s well worth the climb (for Suffolk!) up from Scotchford Bridge to Stanstead Hall. Then it is downhill, skirting Stanstead Great Wood onto the old disused buildings of Kiln Farm and onwards to Kentwell Hall, picking up the Stour Valley Path at the edge of Kentwell Downs. In early spring there is a wonderful display of snowdrops at the rear of Kentwell Hall. Continuing past the pepperpot gatehouses of the hall gives you a wonderful view of this Tudor redbrick mansion house. After continuing down the long lime tree avenue you can stop for well earned refreshments in the village or the nearby garden centre.
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.