Walk 15 – A short circuit of Stansfield
Walk by Roger Medley
This 3 mile walk should take about 75 minutes but includes a few hills and as a result several rewarding views. It could be suitable for a summer’s evening finishing at the village pub, The Compasses. Turn left out of the village hall road and the pub can be found a short way on the right.
Park at the Village Hall; to be found at the south end of the ‘high street’ next to the playing fields. There is a sign on the road.
Walk through a narrow gap to the left of the front of the hall past the playground and picnic bench to find a slope down to the road. Cross the road and use the pavement to walk downhill in safety. At the bottom of the dip cross the bridge and turn left along a sometimes overgrown footpath. Nettleproof trousers could be advisable at certain times. Follow this shady path through trees and undergrowth until you reach a footpath sign. There is a path going straight on across a stile but this is part of Walk 14 entitled ‘A Longer Circuit of Stansfield and Denston’. For the moment turn right and walk up a headland with a mature hedge on the right. About halfway up the path veers to the right through the hedge, across a sleeper bridge, up steps and through a gate. Follow this. The catch is unusual. Keep to the left of the fir trees, through another small gate and aim left of the barn ahead. Walk in front of stables then through, by way of a change, a full width gate (usually open). Cross the farm drive heading slightly right to reach a small metal gate. This path takes you through the cemetery (there are seats here) and in front of the church to reach the road.
Turn left. There is no pavement so it is best to cross and face any approaching vehicles. On reaching the top of Plough Hill and the green triangle of grass in the middle of the junction, veer right to find the driveway to Mill House, and a hidden footpath sign. Head towards a decapitated windmill where a five bar gate appears to halt any progress. On reaching it you will find that the path goes to the left of the barrier and skirts the garden between wire netting and the hedge. Continue through this narrow space to reach a field beyond. Keeping the hedge on the left enter the next field, and when the hedge turns sharp right, go though the gap on your left to enter a further field. Cross a small arable area, which can be muddy if freshly disturbed, into the next field to return to grassy headland walking. Now with the company of a wood on your right you continue to reach a corner. There are pleasing views of Hawkedon church and village to the left. The right of way continues across an arable field ahead but ignore this (part of Walk 28 entitled ‘Hawkedon Circular walk’) and turn right to stay beside the trees. You are funnelled into a corner where you veer right through the hedge across a sleeper bridge and follow the field edge to the left. Follow the field edge around the next corner and at the corner after that turn left downhill and follow a wider green path. Ignore the waymark to the right unless you wish to return to the centre of Stansfield. There are some impressive oaks in the hedge (almost sturdy enough to rate as veterans) which have been watching the changes over several centuries. At the valley bottom the track turns left but you must drop down to climb the stile ahead. Cross the wooden bridge – this section is a little bit of Devon – and continue up the far side keeping to the hedge on the right.
Climb the stile, cross the road and take the field edge path opposite. Stay with the hedge and ditch on the left, round two sides of this field then into the next. You are now walking a section of the Bury St Edmunds to Clare path which has its own distinct waymarks; one of which is placed in a strange position and gives the impression that you must crawl through the hedge. Ignore this. At the next field corner go across a sleeper bridge through the hedge and follow, at times, an indistinct path across two narrow fields. If in doubt head for the power lines. On reaching the ‘road’ (two parallel lines of concrete) leave the longer route and turn right to return to the village hall.
Originally walked 28th May 2008
Re-walked and updated on 10th February 2016
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.