Walk 32 – From Dalham to Wickhambrook
Walk by Roger Medley
Why not make use of the newly introduced Demand Response Transport system (further details in the Parish Council notes section) get a lift to Dalham and find your way back, or if you have access to a second car leave the first outside the church at Dalham and collect it later. The Affleck Arms in Dalham (01638 500306) is open most lunch times and the walk passes (more or less) the Fox at Ousden (01638 500353), which is also open most lunch times. You will need some refreshment as the length is just over 11 kilometres or 7 miles and will take up to 3 hours of walking. It is best undertaken when bluebells are around (May time) as there are many on display in the wooded section at the start. Take the Newmarket and Haverhill 210 Explorer Ordnance Survey map for reassurance. There is a small deviation at Snape’s Farm, Dunstall Green but you follow the waymarks.
Park in front of, or find your way to, Dalham church on top of the hill. Take the road back to the junction but instead of veering right downhill, continue ahead (pass ‘Private No Road’ sign)
Ignore footpaths leading both left and right at top of the hill, pass a large house on the right, cross a concrete road and follow a track between trees. This runs down a dip and up the other side (the first of several downs and ups). At the top, instead of following the track round to the right go half right into a footpath tunnel which runs beside the track. At the footpath sign and a post with several waymarks turn left. On our last visit the turn left waymark was missing but the path you want runs along the edge of a wood on the left and shortly enters the wood. Follow a clear attractive waymarked trail through the wood. There are several unfriendly signs discouraging you from leaving the trail and a possible reason for that becomes clear later on*. On emerging from the wood take the path that crosses a small field diagonally to the right. The path emerges between two large oaks on to the road (There are no footpath signs at this point)
Turn left. Walk uphill until you find a fingerpost on the right (less than half a mile on a comparatively quiet road). Take this track which bends left and soon shrinks to become a field edge path. Keep the hedge on your left. At the end of the hedge the path continues ahead (waymark)towards another post and waymark and eventually to the far side of the field. Here you will find a fingerpost and a choice of footpaths. Cross a culvert, turn left and immediately right. You should now be on a green lane with overgrown hedges on both sides. At the next footpath sign go leftish *(to your right you may spot a shelter and other signs of someone having lived rough) and after a few paces enter the large field on your left. Ahead of you should be a narrow strip of non cultivated ground leading gently uphill. Take this to the top where you will be directed to the right (waymark) along a path cleared through a growing crop. Go down a dip and up the other side to reach a hedge. Turn left. Stick close to the hedge and walk towards the right side of a white house. Enter the hedge beside a hidden footpath sign and after 30 paces reach a concrete road. Head downhill (rightish) to reach the main road through Ousden. (Half a mile to the left is the Ousden ‘Fox’ where it is possible to purchase refreshments at lunchtime on most days.) Go left for 35 paces, cross the road and find a footpath running beside a garden fence. Follow this path to eventually pass a hidden pond on top of the hill and shortly after a large house to the left. Continue ahead to join the entrance drive to the house and follow this past the garden and round to the left. Ignore a footpath sign pointing right and continue into the cluster of cottages at Back Street. Join and walk along the road for a quarter mile then take the byway to the right. If you have followed other walks in this series you may now be on familiar territory. Another byway runs across the end of this one and you must turn left. At the BT telecommunications compound the byway joins a metalled road but you need to find a tunnel footpath leading off to the right. This short path will lead you to open views over Lidgate but do not become too entranced or you will miss the turning left into Spring Wood with its plethora of warning signs. Walk down the cleared section (deer are usually to be seen in this area) and duck under the barrier, or around the end, to reach a wide grassy track. Follow this until reaching the end of the hedge on the left where a waymark points left. Obey this and continue, now with a hedge on your right, to the far corner. Here you enter and skirt two sides of a small wood to reach a road. Turn right, go round the bend, and take the footpath to the left before the white railings. Be aware that the official line of this path sticks to the hedge on the left and eventually crosses an arable field to reach a narrow strip of wood. Turn right and follow this track all the way to Coltsfoot Green, and a bench, and the road. Turn right and then take the first footpath on the left (fingerpost on the opposite side of the road). At the end of the field on the right go up the steps and turn right to follow the top of the bank into the recreation ground. The MSC Hall and car park will come into view.
Roger Medley Last walked end of July 2010
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.