Walk 10 – Dalham
Walk by Roger Medley
This is one of the most attractive local walks within easy reach of Wickhambrook (15 minutes by car) and samples the woods, hills and cottages of Dalham Hall estate. There are several opportunities for refreshments on the 4.5 mile circuit providing you plan your arrival time.
This is one of the most attractive local walks within easy reach of Wickhambrook (15 minutes by car) and samples the woods, hills and cottages of Dalham Hall estate. There is a possibility of refreshment on the 4.5 mile circuit providing you check beforehand. The Affleck Arms (01638 500306) is open evenings only Wednesday to Friday but all day, noon to 11.00 pm, on Saturday and Sunday. The route described is part of the three churches walk (Dalham, Gazeley and Moulton) and can be followed on the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 210 covering Newmarket and Haverhill.
Cars can be parked on the grass in front of the village church. For those unfamiliar with the area this may not be too easy to find. Go into Dalham from Wickhambrook or Lidgate but instead of following the road left in the village centre and across the bridge continue ahead until you reach the conical shaped malt kiln at Maltings Farm. Turn right here and take the minor road up the hill (signposted ‘Church’).
Having parked the car, there are already good views down to the village and beyond. Head back along the road but do not disappear back into the trees; go straight up the hill with open fields on your left. At the first footpath crossroads turn left. This is part of the circular walk and is waymarked throughout. Just remember that eventually you have to leave it. After an enclosed section the path veers left along the edge of a field then left back into the woods. Pass a short stretch where a narrow field drops away to the left then back into the woods again. After left, right and left waymarks (ignore the footpath going off to the right) you skirt the bottom of another narrow field and continue along the path to reach the open. Turn left, cross a wooden bridge and continue with the hedge on your left. Gazeley church soon comes into view. Go into the next field, ignoring a footpath to the right, and make use of a strip between arable fields. At the hedge go through a kissing gate and continue following the path and the Icknield Way signs. Negotiate a second kissing gate and continue along a walled passage and into a housing estate. Follow the pavement and footpath signs to the left. Cross Tithe Close to find the village sign and church. There are several seats in this the village centre. The ‘Chequers’ was once a convenient stop and could be again if you are patient. The current owner has plans to open a Wine and Wool Café in 2016 offering among other things light lunches. Head left along the street towards Dalham passing the Village Hall and Highwood road. At the end of the pavement you will meet a fork in the road. Take the right option and go downhill for a section of road walking (not a busy road). As a more interesting alternative there is faint trail which meanders through the trees on right but it takes a bit of finding. If you succeed continue to the bottom of the hill where you reach a vehicle track and should return to the road. Turn right and walk 150 paces before finding a footpath sign on the left (Icknield Way, again). Take this path and accompany the brook, mostly hidden and completely devoid of any moisture on 1st October 2015, gently uphill. There is sail-less windmill on the horizon. After a long steady ascent you will cross a narrow pedestrian bridge and join Dalham ‘high street’. The Affleck Arms is on the right. Please see the details of opening times in the introduction. You need to turn left but a walk to the right along the main street gives an opportunity to appreciate the pretty thatched cottages and buildings. Return to the end of the pedestrian bridge and continue along the road. Just past the 18th Century malt kiln on the left you will find a kissing gate on the right. Go through and follow the avenue of mature beech and chestnuts uphill back to the church.
Dalham Hall, behind the church was once the home of Cecil Rhodes.
Dalham church was built in the 14th Century on the site of a Saxon church mentioned in the Domesday Book (1087) ‘One church with 40 acres of land and half a plough team, value five shillings…’ The forty acres remain the property of the church to this day and can be seen when looking across the valley from the church door.
The tower used to be taller but the top, including a wooden steeple, was blown down in the great storm of 3rd September 1658, the night that Oliver Cromwell died, and was never replaced.
The walk is about 4.5 miles and can take a comfortable two hours, longer if you stop for a break.
Originally walked in 2007
Re-walked on 1st October 2015
If these notes are confusing or inaccurate or the information is wrong, please let me know. If they are helpful, or if you have any other comments, likewise.
The Wickhambrook W.I. Walking Group meets every Wednesday morning at 10am starting from the MSC car park for walks in the village or slightly further afield. We walk for about two hours and cover about five miles, depending on how much chatting is taking place. There are usually six of us, although we have had a dozen occasionally, dogs are welcome too.