Caution: This path may be slippy in wet conditions.

Lavenham Church in beautiful Suffolk Countryside.

Lavenham Church in beautiful Suffolk Countryside.

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!

Rather muddy Lavenham Walk footpath.

Rather muddy Lavenham Walk footpath.

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

Lavenham, Suffolk.

Lavenham, Suffolk.

and walked to the bridge where there was an entrance to the old railway line.

Entrance to the Lavenham Walk.

Entrance to the Lavenham Walk.

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.

Redevelopment of the old Lavenham Station site.

Redevelopment of the old Lavenham Station site.

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’.

The path WILL be slippery when wet!

The path WILL be slippery when wet!

As we were to find out, it was not just wet, but a running stream in places.

Running stream down the footpath.

Running stream down the footpath.

Running stream down the footpath.

Running stream down the footpath.

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?

Approaching the bridge.

Approaching the bridge.

Water under the bridge!

Water under the bridge!

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.

Avoiding the mud and water.

Avoiding the mud and water.

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.

Pill box on the Eastern Command Line.

Pill box on the Eastern Command Line.

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).

St Edmund Way marker.

St Edmund Way marker.

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.

Track to the farm.

Track to the farm.

We had some stunning views across to the church of St Peter and St Paul.

View to Lavenham Church.

View to Lavenham Church.

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.

Lavenham village signpost.

Lavenham village signpost.

Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham.

Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham.

With several tea shops, the Swan Hotel

Swan Hotel, Lavenham.

Swan Hotel, Lavenham.

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

Walking with Friends

Panoramic view

Suffolk Panorama near Ixworth

This blog is deliberately named 1000 Miles with Friends as I decided that I wanted this challenge to not only be about walking the 1000 miles, but also about the enjoyment of being with friends as I walk.

So far I have walked with my husband and by myself (listening to a new ‘friend’ in Clare Balding’s “Ramblings” podcasts on BBC Radio 4).

As this is half term week I decided to take advantage of the holiday to go out for a walk with a fellow teacher. We have done a few short evening walks previously and I asked my friend where she wanted to go. She has a copy of an AA book of walks and suggested a route from that book which went from the village of Ixworth past two different types of mill, one is noticeable from the A143 which passes it.

Ixworth Walk Details.

Ixworth Walk Details.

So armed with OS Explorer maps 229 and 211 (guess what – we were on the edge of the two maps again!) and the route guide, we set off on a beautiful morning from the village hall carpark in Ixworth (932703).

Due to the heavy rain we had experienced earlier in the week, the footpath alongside the fields was incredibly muddy and it feel like we were walking on soft sand. We met a few dog walkers, but as we moved further from the village there were just the two of us in a rural landscape.

Ixworth walk.

Ixworth walk.

After we turned south to cross the A143 the first of two mills, Pakenham windmill is perched on the opposite hill. This mill was built in 1831 and is Grade II listed. Restored in 2000, it is in working order and although we did not go inside on this occasion, it is somewhere to go back and visit, along with Pakenham Water Mill, which is only a short distance away.

Pakenham Windmill.

Pakenham Windmill.

Pakenham Water Mill.

Pakenham Water Mill.

The parish of Pakenham is unique in Britain in having both a working watermill and a working windmill. The 18th century watermill, the last working watermill in Suffolk and now owned by the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust, is on a Domesday site.

One sight to make us smile was the collection of topiary, a giant spider, the Pied Piper and crocodiles and rhinoceros beside the mill pond.

Topiary Spider.

Topiary Spider.

African Waterhole Topiary!

African Waterhole Topiary!

A little further on from the mill we found the hide at Micklemere a small wetland reserve run by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Mickelmere Wetlands.

Mickelmere Wetlands.

We spent ashort while here enjoying the sight of the birds feeding at the edge of the water and then swooping in flocks as they were disturbed.

Waterfowl at Mickelmere.

Waterfowl at Mickelmere.

Mickelsmere from the Hide.

Mickelsmere from the Hide.

I think I need to ask for a small set of binoculars for my birthday next month so that I can go back to this wonderfully tranquil spot to watch and identify the birds.

We walked back into the village of Ixworth and after removing our boots, went for a spot of lunch at the Coffee House, the second shop opened last summer by the owners of my local Coffee House. I would definitely recommend both of their establishments having tested them both!

Today’s walk: 5.26 miles

Walk total this year: 33.47 miles

Overall total daily mileage: 169.32 miles