Walk 21 – Depden Tower Walk
Walk by Roger Medley
No circular walk this time but a bus journey to Depden water tower and then a wander back to Wickhambrook across the fields. The journey incorporates several stiles, a risky crossing of the A143, a downhill stroll beside five lakes and a skirting of the grounds of Denston Hall. Total distance is about 8 miles but it is all easy walking and can be covered comfortably in three hours.
Catch the Bury bus at Thorns Corner and alight at Depden Water Tower. The journey will cost 90p, or less if you are of a certain age and have applied for your exemptions. The bus runs regularly and is usually on time for journeys into Bury St Edmunds. 10.10 could be a suitable choice; alternatives are on display outside the village shop. The journey takes ten minutes.
Alight and take the road into Depden. Turn right on reaching the common. There is a footpath across the green or a side road. Either will take you to a footpath sign and an enclosed path behind a row of chestnuts and conifers.
Cross a wooden bridge and accompany a collapsing wooden fence on your right. This leads to a farm drive and some very solid looking gates. Soon after these there is a finger post on the left and you should fork left, not turn left, across a field. At the far side you will join a path going both right and left.
If you turn right you will find Depden church which is unusual in that it is surrounded by trees and has no vehicular access. It is supposed to be Suffolk’s remotest church and is poorly signposted, so the advice to any newcomers is to take an Ordnance Survey map. You can tell if a service is being held in winter because the porch is full of Wellington boots. Due to its location the church is kept locked.
Turn left to continue the walk and make use of a well cared for path. Reach a footpath crossroads and kissing gate and turn right. Head down the left hand side of a large field, less cared for, so obviously not the main church path, and veer right at the end. Climb a stile and cross a small paddock diagonally right, then repeat the exercise with a second small paddock.
A third stile brings you to the road. This is the main Haverhill to Bury road and should be crossed with great care. Head up Elm Road opposite. This is gentle head up walking on a quiet country road. You will pass farm buildings with a ‘free range children’ sign, (and when I walked the route on 10 August, two slumbering great danes who managed a ‘woof’ when I was almost out of sight), a radio mast and a reassuring finger post.
Eventually you reach a farm where the road turns left. Do not follow this but carry straight on passing some fuel tanks. You are now on a farm track with mature trees on the left. This curves and forks. The left option leads back to the farm; the right is the one you need. When the trees end continue ahead downhill to more trees and bushes.
Facing you is a metal five bar gate and on the left a waymark decorated stile. Climb this and after twenty paces, to your surprise, you will be facing a lake, and not just one but five in a series running downhill. The footpath is on the far side, so you should turn left and then right in the corner.
Continue downhill admiring the bulrushes and the leaping fish. Skirt round to the right of the last lake to find a narrow clearing in the corner which leads on to another track. Turn left but, almost immediately, upon entering a rough paddock follow the right hand hedge uphill.
The whole of this section is waymarked but some signs are not too obvious. Find a gap in the hedge at the top, go through and turn left on a farm track. Follow this for some way as it curves right and left until immediately after passing a murky pond you reach a junction where you should turn right. Continue following the field edge track until Clopton Bungalows. Turn left in front of these and admire the changes that have taken place as you walk along the row. Continue on the track over the hill and down the other side appreciating the views across the valley.
On reaching the Denston to Stansfield road turn right. Pass the sextagonal thatched cottage and just before the next building on the left find a kissing gate. Go through and continue straight ahead (not veering left) to a wide gap. Having passed through, turn right towards a small metal gate and wooden bridge. You are now on a very pleasant streamside path, which, after crossing two bridges (the second of which you can easily miss), meets the drive of Denston Hall.
Turn right and walk uphill towards the church. Take the footpath that heads down the left hand side of the churchyard. Once through the kissing gate turn sharp left and aim between a hedge and a post and rail fence towards the far left hand corner.
Use another gate and then continue ahead along the field edge. Turn left and right, following the headland path, and in the next right hand corner take the narrow gap (not the wide gap) through the hedge. Turn half right to cross the narrow neck of a field. Turn left on reaching the far side and head towards the traffic noise of the A 143. Cross with care and head up the rough drive on the other side.
At the first waymark turn right to follow the hedge on your right downhill. This leads to Wash Lane and having reached that turn left uphill. At the top turn right and stay with the pavement as it drops downhill, across a road and up the other side. Turn right just past the school, then left behind the tennis courts to return to the bus stop/car park.
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.