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Sudbury circular from Long Melford

Suffolk Walk

County/Area - Suffolk

Author - Rob Simpson

Length - 5.5 miles / 8.9 km    Ascent - 50 feet / 15 metres

Time - 2 hours 50 minutes    Grade - easy

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Sudbury circular from Long Melford
Click image to visit gallery of 6 images.

Long Melford is one of Suffolk's finest historic villages, and a great starting point to take the totally car free 2.7 mile walk, along the old disused railway line, into the nearby market town of Sudbury where you can explore the historic streets. Sudbury was where Thomas Gainsborough, the world famous painter lived (1727-1788). The return to Long Melford crosses the picturesque water meadows, via the Mill Hotel, and along the River Stour.

The start is the Melford Country Park (grid ref. TL857437) to the south of Long Melford where it is free all day parking. Visitors may wish to explore the Country Park before they embark on the walk. Signage near the toilet block indicates numerous walking paths that incorporate numerous small lakes, wooded areas, and viewing points beside the River Stour.

To start The Valley Walk proceed past the picnic benches close to the car park embankment and go through the entrance on your right signed "To Valley Trail". Go through the gate, out of the park boundary, and follow the path up onto the bridge across the scenic River Stour. Once over the bridge, having walked about fifty paces, turn left at the opening by the footpath marker, and the sign "Valley Trail". It is almost a straight walk into Sudbury, along the 2.7 mile disused railway line, which is used by only walkers and cyclists. Smaller footpath walks leading off the main trail can be taken, but it is recommended to stay on the main walk, which takes you directly to the Sudbury Town water meadows, and public spaces.

The first reference point is a pillbox on the meadow on your left. Carry on ahead with the path providing improved views across the extensive water meadow on your left and a large field to your right. The path continues over a low metal-Victorian bridge as trees start to appear on either side. Keep ahead, going under two large Victorian brick bridges, a few hundred yards apart. This section can get muddy in winter. After the second bridge, the water meadow appears again on your left with the distinctive white Mill Hotel across the water meadows. On your right is the Sudbury Town FC ground. All Saints Church appears on your left in the distance as the pathway starts to bear left. Cross two low metal bridges over Ballingdon Street, and the traffic below.

Continuing the path curves gently left and across the large Victorian bridge over the River Stour, with meadows on your right. Continuing you cross a second smaller metal bridge, with the historic Granary Building and the Sudbury Rowing Club on your left, and views of the River Stour on your right. A boating water channel leads into the Stour below you. (Electric Boat Trips are available for a modest sum, from the Granary).

Just after this bridge (Grid ref. TL873408), take the smaller foot path on your right down the slope and out and around the public water meadow and the public recreational area. The River Stour is on your right hand side. Enjoy the open space and views across the low valley. Soon you will notice a WW2 pillbox on the river bank on the other side and shortly after, a distinctive orange life-saving station close to the river bank. At this point if you look left directly across the public open space, you will see a large tree and bench along the tree line. This is the point to start the return section of the walk (Grid ref. TL875409). However it is worth continuing along the river bank for a little further before starting the return. However it is worth continuing along the river bank for a little further, right along the new river path, right up to the very pretty Cornard Lock and Bakers Mill Pond, before starting the return leg.

From the tree and bench, walk up onto the Valley Walk path and turn left. This takes you back along the outward route. Cross two small metal railed bridges to reach the familiar Victorian Bridge with the Granary and Sudbury Rowing Club, to your right. About 30 yards after the bridge take the path on your right which leads down into an open car park and on into Quay Lane. Watch out for traffic here. You pass the Rowing Club, and entrances to the Quay Theatre, and the Granary on your right. Keep ahead, ignoring he footpath sign on the pole to your right, until you come to the Quay Lane road junction, opposite Carter's House.

Turn immediately right, into Friars Street with its historic period houses and small shops. Keep going and ahead of you is the Market Square. You quickly arrive at the bottom of Market Hill. In front of the large church in the square is the statue of Thomas Gainsborough. At the bottom of the square, turn left into Gainsborough Street - by the HSBC Bank on the corner (grid ref. TL870413). Gainsborough's house and museum comes into view. Continue past Weavers lane on your right, School Street and down into Mill Hill. Ignore the one way system and Gregory Street, and continue down the hill with old timbered buildings on your left until the water meadow appear. Taking care, cross Mill Hill road turn right down into Walnut Tree Lane. On the right is the Mill Hotel with the two millstones at its entrance. There is also a low wall with water river viewing and duck feeding on left.

Continue past the Mill Hotel entrance in the direction of the water meadows. A metal gate leading to the meadow is ahead of you (grid ref. TL869413). However follow the footpath going around to your right, which takes you beside the Mill Hotel. Notice the water mill wheel through the large window before heading off beside the river.

The Water Meadows are on your left with the river on your right. Continue over the Croft Gates and the small water fall below you. Bear slightly right past the boating lake. Shortly after the wooden footbridge at the Croft appears on your right. Keep walking ahead and soon a metal gate appears (To Fullingpit Meadow). Go through this gate across the grass meadow to the next metal gates and the small bridge over the Fullingpit Weir. Carry on past the WW2 pillbox on your right, to the next set of gates across the meadow. Having crossed over, take the right hand fork in the path, in the direction of the old stone cottage.

Take the path around the shady walled bends. Soon the Mill Cottages appear on your left. Across the T junction of path and single track road is the large distinctive Old Brundon Mill. With the three garages ahead of you beside the Mill, turn immediately left. You may wish to quickly turn right for a few hundred feet to the Brundon locks and footbridge, which is often full of Swans and ducks, and some welcome shade.

Keeping left on the single track road from the three garages, go around the bend, and then take the first right footpath off the bend, around the wooden gate (grid ref. TL864422). A field is on your left with a fence, and on your right a tall hedge. Proceed a short distance to regain the Valley Walk main foot path, along which you originally came. Turn right on the main path and go back over the first low metal Victorian Bridge and continue straight onwards to the starting point of the Valley Walk, and the main road junction. At the road, turn right, go back across the bridge over the River and the Long Melford Country Park

Other walks nearby

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Walk 3263 Clare and Cavendish Circulareasy/mod7.7 miles
Walk 3724 River Box from Stoke-by-Naylandeasy6.0 miles
Walk 3245 Woolpit and Rattelesden circular easy/mod6.0 miles
Walk 3411 Buxhall to Drinkstone Greeneasy/mod7.5 miles
Walk 3744 Great Bardfield & Finchingfield Circulareasy4.7 miles
Walk 3660 Stour Valley & Dedham from Flatford Milleasy3.5 miles
Walk 2476 Moulton & Gazeley Circulareasy6.7 miles
Walk 3658 Manningtree, Flatford Mill and Dedhameasy/mod7.1 miles

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