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
Wednesday 26th May
The Heart of Suffolk
Welcome to day 5 of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!
Today enjoy the heartlands of Suffolk with its rolling countryside and the beautiful Thornham Walks, and then enjoy a lovely video in which Judith Thompson ‘Beats The Bounds’ in Stowmarket.
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 third episode David went to Trimley Marshes for a chat with the Editor of Suffolk Magazine Jane Lindill about living and working in Suffolk, writing plays, and the varied walks available across the county.
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 5 – Mendlesham Village Circular Walks – Tan Office and Mendlesham Green Circular
Distance = Approx. 5.5 miles (9km)
Time = Approx. 3 hours
Mendlesham’s name first appeared in the Domesday Book as Melnesham and Mundlesham, meaning ‘Myndel’s village’. In 1280 it was granted a Tuesday market and today is known for its May Day Street Fayre.
Old Market Street is the historic heart of the village, with timber-framed buildings, bakery and stores, fish and chip shop, post office and the Kings Head pub. On Church Street is the medieval Church of St Mary with a memorial to the USAAF 34th Bomb Group stationed here during the second word war, and commonwealth war graves.
The village made history on 23 November 1981 when it was struck by a tornado during the largest tornado outbreak in Europe, with 104 touching down across England and Wales!
The parish has a fascinating history told through the walks in this Discover Suffolk leaflet. All walks start at the Mendlesham Community Centre and overlap at Millennium Wood in Vicarage Plantation, where there are picnic tables. The Tan Office and Mendlesham Green walk is mostly on natural surfaced footpaths and tracks with some road walking
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 5 – Thornham Walks – Acres of landscaped parkland
Distance = 1.3 miles (2km)
Thornham Walks is a landscaped parkland criss-crossed by 12 miles of paths allowing you to really explore this magical location. A map is available in the carpark for £1.00, and highlights include the restored walled garden (open weekends and holidays) with its fabulous fruit trees and colourful herbaceous borders, a bird hide with exciting sights of woodland birds, a folly, and the pet cemetery with its intriguingly named pets.
The trails are very well marked and easy to follow. A surfaced path leads from the car park to the pond, bird hide, walled garden, folly, and pets cemetery with longer walks clearly signed.
- Parking – charges apply
- Accessible toilets
- Refreshments at the Forge Cafe and Old Coach House Cafe
- Picnic area
- Play area
did you know……..
Lady Eve Balfour was one of the first women to study agriculture at University, after she bought a farm in Suffolk. Along with her sister Mary, she launched the Haughley experiment and in 1943 published The Living Soil. In 1946 Lady Balfour co-founded The Soil Association.
You can find out more information about Lady Balfour and The Living Soil here
Stow Stories – Beating the Bounds
Join Don Egan’s walk and wander with Judith Thompson in Stowmarket ‘beating the bounds’, with a guide to the history of Stowmarket and the surrounding area.
You can find lots more walks with Don Egan at www.walksandwanders.com
Mandy at Suffolk Archives and John at Chronicle talk about their work preserving and keeping Suffolk’s history alive and creating digital walking trails around Ipswich, Eye and Aldeburgh High Street.
Find out more about Suffolk Archives and The Hold here www.suffolkarchives.co.uk/the_hold/
Find out more about Chronicle here www.chroniclestories.co.uk
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…….
- This town’s name means ‘island’ because it was once surrounded by rivers and marshes.
- In 1781 a lead box was unearthed containing 600 Roman gold coins! Basil Brown (of Sutton Hoo fame) carried out excavations here, finding the remains of a Saxon cemetery.
- Its church tower has been described as “one of the wonders of Suffolk”.
- Flax was once grown here and ‘retted’ – a process whereby the plant is turned into fibre, giving an area here the name “The Rettery”.
- At just 3 miles, it once had the shortest branch line in East Anglia.
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 5 – Prepare a wild salad
There are plenty of edible flowers and weeds out there. Identify them and make a salad with a difference. You could even do a day’s foraging course to learn all about what’s good to eat in the Wild!
*Don’t eat anything you collect in the wild unless you are certain you know what it is and that it is edible!
stop and listen……….
Take a mindful minute to relax and immerse yourself in a beautiful sound bath every day
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 Hilary Hill (one of our Walking Festival regulars) guides us around a ten-mile walk around Hasketon, Debach and Bredfield.
We love the solitude, wildlife and history of this walk. Mostly, the only sounds are the birds and it’s rare to meet another person. Starting by Hasketon village sign, with your back to Tymmes Place turn right then keep left into Top Road. Take the footpath on your right, then right again at the farm. Left along the lane and right towards Oaktree farm. Left at the end of the trees, right on the road to a footpath on your left across a field. Keep your eyes and ears open for the buzzards and kestrels. At the end turn right along a field edge. Enter Debach WWII airfield by Hall Cottage. Skylarks singing and hares dashing have replaced the roar of the liberators of the 493rd bomb group.
Ahead, in the trees, is the site of the (demolished) moated Thistleton Hall, skirt round this to the right. At the end of the trees take the path diagonally across the field to the road, turn left and at the T-junction left again. Follow the track beside the Old School over fields, looking out for deer, through a meadow to a waymarker post. Turn right, pass a corrugated iron barn and take the bridleway on the left, then the road straight on until you come to a T-junction. The modern property on the left will provoke discussion!
Right, then right again, along a field edge passing through a copse that April to June is full of three cornered leek flowers – a feast for the eyes and the nose! Left along the road, right on a track towards the 16th century High House. Once through the grounds walk along a field edge to a waymarker post. Turn right across the field to cross the road and enter Boulge Park, with its ancient oak trees and wild deer. A visit to the isolated, hidden, church with the grave of Edward Fitzgerald is a must.
Re-joining the route, the path has Boulge Hall on the right and paddocks on the left. When it meets a track, turn right but keep left of the oak tree. Don’t turn off, soon there is hedge on the left and 2 stiles to cross before reaching a road. Turn right. After Hasketon House take the footpath on the left. When you meet the lane, go straight over and retrace your steps to the start.
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.