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
Saturday 22nd May
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.
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
Distance = Approx. 3 miles (4.5km)
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.
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
Distance = 1 mile (1.5km)
Wheelchair Accessible with assistance
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.
Parking – pay and display
Toilets – accessible
Museum – charges apply
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/
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!
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
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.
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!
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.