Walk 3 – Wickhambrook plus Clopton & Denston
Walk by Roger Medley
This circular walk heads east to Clopton Green, south to Denston and returns along the brook valley making use of Countryside Stewardship fields, footpaths and quiet country roads. There are two steady climbs but the effort is rewarded by pleasing views of rolling Suffolk countryside. The good news is that over the last month most footpaths have been cut and many crops have been harvested. No section of the route should be overgrown. The walk is approaching seven miles so you may wish to pack a picnic.
ROUTE : From the Car Park at Wickhambrook village hall take the footpath on the right between the graveyard and the children’s play area. Cross the ditch and continue to the corner of the field then left to reach the road. Turn right and continue along the road, taking the necessary precautions, until you reach the 30 mph signs. Immediately after, on the left is a partially hidden stile. Push through the invasive briars and climb into the field.
Take the path half left across a culvert and half right until you reach the second stile. Once over this, turn right and cross the bed of the stream (this was dry on 6th August but could be a giant leap for mankind in the winter).
Turn left and follow the cleared headland of a Countryside Stewardship Area. This twists and turns, always with the hedge on the left, and at one stage you almost double back to give a view of the village. You eventually meet the road at the top of Fullers Hill where you turn right. After 100 yards go left through a field entrance.
The nice new footpath sign has disappeared but you can just see the stump if you look carefully. Follow the path with the hedge on the left. Just before the end of the hedge you should obey the waymark and veer right across the field. Head for a lone ash tree at the end of another hedge. At the tree turn sharp left and head down to a ditch, across a footbridge and up the other side with a hedge, again, on the left. Continue into another field.
Soon after passing an electricity pole veer right (way mark), cross the field, go through the hedge and continue towards the hilltop houses. On reaching the A143, cross with care and head down Giffords Lane.
Follow this quiet country road passing both Clopton and Giffords Halls. It remains a mystery why two such high status mediaeval houses are built so close together. Between the two, again on the left, is a dark corrugated iron hut. This was once a school built for the education of the sons of farmworkers by Justin Brooke, landowner and entrepreneur, who moved into the area in 1928. The farmworkers were brought down from the North, at the time of high unemployment, and provided with both housing and schooling.
The metalled road eventually turns sharp right at a letter box and you now walk in front of the bungalows mentioned above. Most have been modernised. The road becomes a track and you should continue up and over the hill. Superb views of rolling Suffolk await you. On passing a large heap of spoil on the right and just in front of a post and rail fence, turn right. There is a waymark but it’s a little shy.
Follow the headland to the left and downhill. Turn right in front of the hedge coming in from the right and continue along the headland this time on the level. At the first gap in the hedge turn left and go downhill now with the hedge on the right. At the lower corner, just as you are convinced that there is to be no escape, a gap and footbridge appear on the right. Take these and turn left to the road.
Most waymarks are in place over this last section but some are not obvious. You are now on the edge of the attractive village of Denston standing next to recently re-thatched Bridge Cottage. Cross the road and the bridge and continue up the hill to the church. There is a seat here where you can rest overlooking the village green.
In 1970 the church was in serious danger of partial collapse. The interior was described as being so green with mould that it looked to be covered with mediaeval wall paintings. The trouble stemmed from a misguided decision taken many years earlier to remove the lead from the roof – the idea being to thwart thieves by re-covering the roof with roofing felt.
A major fundraising effort was undertaken, involving some well known names such as Hammond Innes, Elizabeth Frink and the Duke of Grafton, and the entire roof was repaired. While the improvements were taking place pigeons moved in and made a dreadful mess inside the church. The vicar appealed for ‘a reasonably house-trained hawk’ but none appeared so he acquired a stuffed hawk which he stuck on the pulpit. St Nicholas church is now well worth a visit.
Take the footpath on the right at the far end of the churchyard but beware that this is a regularly used dog exercise area. Go through the first kissing gate and veer gently right to go through the second. Turn right, and then left behind a young hedge and drop to the valley bottom. Turn left and follow the brook to Wickham Street, ignoring two paths to the right and edging three sides of a small field (all waymarked – left, right, footbridge, right) before reaching the road.
As this is a slightly longer walk than the previous two you are allowed to call in to the Plumbers Arms! Take the road beside the pub and head towards Wickhambrook. Pass the church, fork left across the ford and up the one way street. Turn right at the main road. Bank House, facing you, used to be a bank and opened on Fridays, to coincide with pay days, but only for a couple of hours.
Follow the pavement downhill, across Cloak Lane, and continue. Turn right beside the village school and turn left after passing the tennis courts. Cross the recreation ground and return to the 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.