Walk 26 – Hargrave and Chevington
Walk by Roger Medley
Hargrave Parish Council has recently authorised the printing of a local footpaths leaflet. This has resulted in most local landowners clearing footpaths through growing crops and makes the described route much easier to follow. You will still need to take Explorer Map 210 Newmarket & Haverhill with you because the circuit takes you outside the parish boundary.
The walk explores the countryside around and between the two villages making use of mainly field edge paths and quiet country roads. There are some gentle slopes and the circuit is a mix of wide open spaces and village edges. At almost 7 miles it is a longer walk than usual but when you reach the seats in Chevington churchyard you are more than halfway round.
Park at Hargrave Village Hall. Alternative parking can be found at Chevington and Hargrave churches.
Take the footpath that leads down the side of the hall and continues along the side of the field. In the corner turn left and follow the path through a small copse to a kissing gate. Go through this and continue in much the same direction. Do not be distracted by a path and stile to your right. Pass a pond on the left and climb one of the most individual stiles you are likely to find on your local travels. Follow the mown path through rough pasture and scrub to reach the road. Turn left and at the junction turn right signed Wickhambrook and Clare. Walk along this road, ignoring the left turn to Chevington and Bury, making use of welcoming verges until you pass the last house on the left, ‘Old Grove’, and obey the footpath sign soon after. Follow this path along the field edge beside a fence and row of trees for some way until you reach a crosspath (waymarks) and the wire fence turns sharp left. At this point turn right and walk towards some trees. Pass through this narrow belt, turn left and accompany a ditch to the far hedge. Turn right and follow the hedge on your left for a short distance until the hedge takes a sharp left and you are faced by a lone oak tree (no waymark). Veer left towards a wide gap between hedges and cross a concrete culvert. Stay with the hedge ahead as it rises gently uphill towards Chevington. You can walk either side. If you keep the hedge on your right you will enter a copse and will be taken to the right to rejoin the field. Continue left uphill. In the corner pass through a gap in the hedge (new waymark) to reach the drive to Tan Office Farm. Turn right to pass around or through a metal gate to reach houses and T junction (Depden Lane) where you should turn left. On reaching the road go across and make use of the ‘No Through Road’ almost opposite (Factory Lane). Ignore fingerposts pointing both left and right and at Stonehouse Farm continue ahead on the bridleway to reach a quiet country road where you turn left. Eventually you turn left again at the next T-junction (Queens Hill). After a short climb take the direction indicated by the hidden fingerpost on the right and this vehicle track, with hedges one side or the other, will take you to a road. Turn left and follow this round to Chevington Church. Turn right through the car park and head left of the church building. The church should be open and is a well cared for building which underwent restoration in 1993-4. The changes included a modern stone alter placed centrally and a stone column supporting a black metal tabernacle. Against white walls this combination has startling impact. Externally the tower has a somewhat stretched look because the original tower was extended on the instructions of the 1st Marquis of Bristol, Frederick William Hervey, so that it could be viewed from the Ickworth estate. Follow the path left through the churchyard annexe. There are two seats here if it is time for a break. Pass these and head towards the far corner. Climb a stile and veer right through a small paddock to find another stile almost hidden in the hedge. Once across the ditch turn left and stay with the hedge on your left to reach the road. There is a gap in the hedge opposite and a fingerpost. Follow the direction indicated, just to the right of a lone pole, across the field to the far side. Go through a gap in the hedge, cross a sleeper bridge and accompany the hedge on the right for a short distance. On reaching a corner continue in much the same direction heading for, and keeping left of, a line of three struggling oak trees. In July 2016 all this section had been newly waymarked and paths had been cut through the growing crops. Go through another gap in the hedge (sleeper bridge and steps) and cross the next narrow field to reach but not go through the next hedge. Turn right on a wide headland and go gently downhill. You will soon find a narrow bridge and steps (but no waymark) on the left and use these to enter a manicured area of grass. Cross this, skirting a fenced area, to the waymark at the far side. Use a metal bridge to cross the stream and walk through trees and a wide gate to reach the road. Turn left for short distance (take care as this is a narrow road and can be busy) and take the footpath on the right. Go up the drive and when that turns right continue with hedge on the left until it stops. You continue into the field for another 200 paces until you are level with hedge line on the left, a short distance away. Turn left to join the hedge and keep it on the right until you reach the road. Turn left and take the next footpath sign on the right which can be found just as the road starts to drop. Cross a footbridge and walk across a large field to reach Hargrave Church. The path was cleared through the crop on 10.7.2016 but if the way is not obvious head towards the right hand end of a clump of trees. Once reached turn left in front of the hedge and after a few paces you will find, on your right, a way into the churchyard. The church is invariably open and although not grand in any way has country church appeal, and is situated in a quiet and peaceful position. The body of the church is flint but the tower is of Tudor red brick and it must be one of the few churches to be immune from through draughts as both doors are on the same south facing wall. Services are still held there.
Turn left down the church track to reach a green area of common land. Follow the road down a dip, across a bridge, around a corner (ignore the footpath and bridleway signs at the hilltop) and continue on this quiet country road. Take the first footpath on the right, just as the road starts to drop. Cross a footbridge. The path follows a field edge to pick up the road leading back into Hargrave. Turn right and make use of the verges to return to the village hall.
Originally walked 4.10.2009
Re-walked on 10th July 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.