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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.

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.

David Falk

Festival Director

Image of Leslie Dolphin in a blue and white floral top. She is smiling and standing in front of a large white rose bush and a blue sign

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.

Happy Walking!

Lesley Dolphin

Producer/Presenter BBC Radio Suffolk

Follow us on facebook, twitter, and Instagram and come back to the website to see brand new exciting stuff everyday for 10 days from Saturday 22 May until Monday 31 May.

You can also find everything from the previous days too, so there’s no need to miss out on any of the fun!


DAY 1

Saturday 22nd May

2021

The Edge of the Brecks

Welcome to the first day of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!

Today we explore a fascinating and mysterious area called The Brecks. The Brecks literally means ‘broken ground’ and is a vast landscape of heathland and forest stretching north of Bury St Edmunds to Norfolk. Home to rare wildlife, wide open skies and beautiful country parks, it’s a wonderful part of the county to explore on foot, bike or even horseback. 


Lesley Dolphin and David Falk at Landguard Nature Reserve

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.

Today is the first day of the first Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival, and 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 1 – Great Livermere Walks – A Mere View

Walk distance

Distance = Approx. 3 miles (4.5km)

Estimated time

Time = Approx. 1.5 hours

The name Livermere was first recorded in 907AD and may derive from a pre-7th century Olde English word ‘laefor-mere’, which means the lake where rushes grew: rushes were once widely used for roofing, flooring and heating. It is recorded in the Domesday Book with a fishery, a horse, 3 cattle, 3 pigs, 100 sheep and a population of 52 households which placed it in the largest 20% of settlements at the time. Other derivations of the name suggest a coagulated lake from old English “lifrig” (clotted).

Today, it is a relaxed, quiet village with a fascinating history and surprising links to some famous people. At its heart is the War Memorial, a village sign, and a 12th century medieval thatched church, St Peter’s, with its distinctive weather-boarded belfry. The church is open every day.

Great Livermere is one of several villages edging Ampton Water, located on the southern edge of The Brecks, a landscape characterised by loose sandy soils and belts of pine trees. The various walks in this leaflet will take you over open waters, through old woodlands and across wide fields. The walks in this leaflet can also be linked to Troston Walks and Ixworth Walks, 2 other leaflets in the Discover Suffolk series of walk guides.

Click to download the full leaflet

The front cover of the walking leaflet for Great Livermere. A church with grave stones in the foreground. Inset is a picture of the village sign
West Stow leaflet

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 1 – West Stow Country Park

Walk distance

Distance = 1 mile (1.5km)

Wheelchair accessible

Wheelchair Accessible with assistance

Pushchair accessible

Pushchair Accessible

West Stow Country Park is located alongside the River Lark and adjacent to lakes and heathland providing a varied and fascinating day out.

With plenty to do for the whole family, the park contains 3 marked trails along the river, over the heath and through the woods. Each uses natural paths with benches along the routes.

Children will love the excellent play area with its climbing wall and scramble net, and all the family will enjoy the fascinating, recreated Anglo Saxon Village, promoted as England’s first village; making a trip to West Stow a very full, fun and varied day out.

Facilities:

Parking – pay and display

Toilets – accessible

Cafe

Picnic are

Play area

Museum – charges apply

Click to download the full leaflet

did you know……..

A bat is called a ‘Flittermouse’ in old Suffolk dialect?

You can find out loads more information about bats from Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Suffolk Bat Group

Common pipistrelle bats by Tom Marshall

(Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Suffolk Bat Group)

The Warrener’s Tale

A short film from the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme on the fascinating history of Thetford Warren Lodge in the Brecks. Hear the tale of the Warrener, the Lodge and the rabbits!


Find out more about the Heritage Lottery funded Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme projects at www.breakingnewground.org.uk/our-projects/

The Beowulf and Grendel Trail

This short film takes you on a fun journey along the wonderful interpretive trail in West Stow Country Park inspired by the ancient saga of Beowulf and Grendel. The Trail takes us past lots of interesting features, including the sleeping dragon, unique Breckland Landscape, woodlands and lake settings.


Video courtesy of West Stow Country Park and West Suffolk Council.


You can find lots more information about West Stow Country Park at www.weststow.org/

Part of medieval church tower
medieval painting on church wall depicting St George and the dragon
Roof and chimney of an old red brick Hall

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 village lies on the route between the site of the martyrdom of St Edmund and the Saint’s final resting place in Bury St Edmunds Abbey.

  • The medieval church has a unique tower which has remained unaltered since it was added in 1300! Its interior has fine medieval wall paintings including an unusually high number of pre- and post-Reformation devotional graffiti and inscriptions from the time of the Great Plague. There’s even a carved head known as the Demon!

  • The village gives it’s name to a unique style of brick.

Come back tomorrow to find out where we are!

At Discover Suffolk we have come up with 40 FUN and FABULOUS seasonal activities to inspire your family to leave the living room behind and get exploring Suffolk’s great outdoors.

We have chosen one activity for each day of the Festival, but you can find all 40 over on the Discover Suffolk website!

cartoon boy laying on his back in a meadow
Suffolk's Fab40 logo

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 1 – Spring clean your local area

cartoon-adult-and-kids-picking-up-litter

A litter-free environment is good for wildlife. Take time to tidy up a little and make a big difference. There are lots of hints and tips on arranging a litter pick in Suffolk on the Suffolk Recycles website.

stop and listen……….

Take a mindful minute to relax and immerse yourself in a beautiful sound bath every day

David Falk (Festival Director)

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 our Festival Director David Falk tells us about the Brecks Trail and why he thinks it’s so fantastic!

Elveden Monument

The Brecks is a magical area of open heathlands and vast forests criss-crossed by ancient footpaths and wide tracks. I find the area enchanting with its fascinating long history of rabbit warrens, forestry and country estates. The Brecks Trail was created in 2014 and runs for 15 miles between Brandon Country Park and West Stow Country Park.

I always start at Brandon and walk southwards, enjoying the sun in my face and the wind often in my back. Walking through Thetford Forest I follow the Shakers Road, an ancient drove road, into Lakenheath Warren, the largest heathland in all of Suffolk. I’ve stood here many times watching Goshawks perform acrobatic sky dances, seen Red Kites cluster over trees, and heard the soft mewing of Buzzards high overhead.

The half way point is the Elveden Monument – incongruous next to the busy A11 – but a useful spot to place a car if you want to break the distance in half. The second half of the walk takes you into The Kings Forest and along a short section of the Icknield Way, said to be one of the oldest roads in Britain, and walked upon for over 1,000 years. Journey’s end is the country park and anglo-saxon village of West Stow and a much needed cup of tea!


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.

Our Partners

The Suffolk Walking Festival could never happen without the generosity of so many throughout the county, and this year is no exception. Thank you to all our contributors, supporters and partners – we couldn’t do it without you!

Suffolk Secrets logo
BBC Radio Suffolk logo
EADT Suffolk logo
East of England Co-op logo
Clare Castle Country Park logo
Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB logo
Dedham Vale AONB logo
Churches Conservation Trust logo
Natural England logo
National Trust logo
East Suffolk Lines Logo
Southwold Town Council logo
Landguard Partnership logo
Norfolk and Suffolk Long Distance Walkers Association
Walkers Are Welcome logo
Thornham Walks logo
Suffolk Archives logo
RSPB logo
Walking on Air logo
Nordic Walking East Anglia logo
Big Sky Mind Mindfulness logo
Sudbury Town Council logo
Brecks Fen Edge & Rivers logo
Broads Authority logo
Babergh Mid-Suffolk Councils logo
West Suffolk Council logo
Visit Suffolk logo
Ipswich Borough Council logo
East Suffolk Council logo
The Ramblers logo
OneLife Suffolk logo
Screen Suffolk logo
Discover Suffolk logo
Blue and white logo for Suffolk County Council
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