St David’s Day and a bright, sunny but windy morning. We were finally able to take a walk, suggested by a friend, along the former railway line at Lavenham.
We had hoped to take this walk last weekend, but we were unable to get out on Saturday and so had done a shorter local walk around Nowton Park. We thought that we might do the walk yesterday, but the forecast was not particularly good and the weather became wetter and more miserable as the afternoon progressed.
I’m glad that we waited until today – when I saw the state of the path after yesterday’s rain, we would have been wading through a river if we had come yesterday!
Lavenham is one of the best preserved medieval villages in the UK with 320 listed timber-framed buildings. Lavenham’s wealth was built on the wool trade and by 1524 it was the 14th richest town in the country. The size of its church and timber-framed buildings still bear witness to this and it is a popular tourist destination.
We parked on the side of the road
and walked to the bridge where there was an entrance to the old railway line.
The Great Eastern Railway line came to Lavenham in 1863 as part of the Long Melford to Bury St Edmunds branch line; it was closed to passsengers in 1961 and goods traffic in 1965.
The site of the the old Lavenham Station is now being redeveloped for housing.
We were very glad of waterproof boots this week (there is a story there from last week!) and the sign (even with its spelling mistake!) made me smile as someone had crossed out ‘may’ and replaced it with ‘will’.
As we were to find out, it was not just wet, but a running stream in places.
However, despite the slippery and muddy conditions, it was an enjoyable walk, sheltered from the wind by the trees and there were several benches alongside the path.
As we came to a bridge which carried a minor road over the railway we were faced with something of a dilemma – did we continue on or go up onto the road?
Being intrepid adventurers, we pushed on, although it required careful manoevering around the watery fence. The path became more overgrown, but was still very muddy and we considered turning back to the bridge.
I’m glad that we didn’t though, as we soon came across another pill box, also on the same Eastern Command Line of defensive structures that we had seen two weeks earlier further north at Cavenham Heath.
We also found that we were now on the St Edmund Way, an 80-mile long distance path travelling from South to North across Suffolk (this will be one to follow more of later in the year, I think).
This time we had to take a higher path as the main one really was more like a river and we emerged alongside a field with a broad edge used as a path. We were then able to take a harder surfaced track (thankfully with the strengthening wind at our backs) up to a farm and on to the minor road which led into Lavenham.
We had some stunning views across to the church of St Peter and St Paul.
The village was much busier (we had only encountered six people and two dogs during our walk), but was a pretty end to our 4.5 mile walk.
With several tea shops, the Swan Hotel
and the lovely National Trust Guildhall, Lavenham is a beautiful place to visit.
The old railway walk is beautiful too and I look forward to returning in the summer, when hopefully the conditions underfoot will be less wet and muddy!
Today’s walk: 4.5 miles
Walk total this year: 42.11 miles
Overall total daily mileage: 210.44 miles