Walk 5 – Walk to Cowlinge and back
Walk by Roger Medley
This is the second of a trio of walks to pubs in neighbouring villages, the idea being that you walk there, have a midday snack and make use of the local bus service for the return journey. Please note that this particular pub is only open at lunchtime from Thursday to Sunday and Sunday is an ‘open all hours for roast meal’ day. There is no bus service on Sunday.
Following this route and walking at gentle pace, from Wickhambrook to Cowlinge will take around 90 minutes. There are several options for the return journey. The easiest is by using the community bus. The contact number is 01638 664304 and the bus can be booked up to a fortnight ahead. Other options are by retracing your steps or following the road to Farley Green and cutting back across country to Attleton Green (details later).
If you intend to make use of the Three Ways Country Pub in Cowlinge (01440 820355) please note the current opening hours. It is not open on Mondays or Tuesdays. On Wednesday to Saturday it is open from 5.00pm to 11.00pm and on Sundays from 12 noon until 11. Explorer map 210 Newmarket & Haverhill shows the whole route.
Leave your car in the car park beside Wickhambrook village hall. Enter the recreation ground by the ramp in the corner of the hall and head towards to the lone beech tree adjacent to the right hand hedge. Pass the tennis courts and turn right to take the lane beside the school. Reach and cross the road and head down a minor road opposite. At the bottom turn left and follow this slightly busier road as is twists and turns through a junction (do not turn left or right) past a bench on a small green (Attleton Green) and through a variety of houses and bungalows. As you leave habitation and just after Melford House on the right, take the footpath in a field entrance on the left. Keep a ditch and mature hedge on the left. In the corner bear right now with a younger hedge on the left and a ditch on the right. In the next corner bear right again now with a hedge and ditch to the left. Continue until you have just passed a group of mature trees in a copse. Turn right and follow the edge of an arable field. There will still be a hedge on your left but separated by a wide, but narrowing, grass strip. You will soon meet a vehicle track in front of a wood and you need to turn left. Follow this track around a couple of large puddles until you eventually reach a road at a small grass triangle. Turn right and continue to the corner by Fairstead Farm. Leave the road here, turn left at the footpath sign and follow another track which goes to the right of a corrugated barn cum workshop, then soon after left in front of a brick barn with many arches. The track continues straight, more or less, to Cowlinge. On reaching the road turn right and a few more paces will bring you face to face with the Three Ways. This is a seventeenth century hostelry with log fires in the winter and is all round cosy. If you wish to use another 50 mins. it is possible to walk to the church and back.
The St Margaret of Antioch parish church was built some 650 years ago and boasts mediaeval graffiti and wall paintings. Under the east window there is a small grilled opening that probably ventilated a charnel chamber. Churchyards were re-used in the Middle Ages and bones from earlier burials were removed to charnels for safe keeping. At the west end of the north isle is an unusual local seating arrangement. Four plain backless forms are stepped one above another and these accommodated the keeper of the Cowlinge House of Correction and his prisoners, probably in the coldest and draughtiest corner. If the church is closed, details of the key holders can be found in the porch.
To do the church loop go back over the sleeper bridge, a few paces from the road, turn left and follow the ditch on the left. You eventually arrive at a gated entrance to a grassy paddock with an obvious path crossing diagonally right towards the church. At the far end you will find a small wooden gate and then after a few more paces a memorial gate. Go through both and turn right to reach the church. Having visited and admired, drop to the main road, turn left and follow the road round to the left into Cowlinge ‘high street’. Pass the war memorial and return to the pub.
To take the alternative route to Wickhambrook return to Fairstead Farm, turn right at the road and continue until you eventually reach Peacocks Farm. This distance is around half a mile but it is a quiet road. Soon after passing the entrance to Peacocks Farm on the left and just before you reach Farley Green House you will find a squeeze stile in the hedge on the left. Go through this to enter a small airstrip. Head diagonally left to find a kissing gate and footbridge in the far corner. Join the headland of a large field and stay with a ditch on the left. At the next footbridge continue in the same direction now with a mature hedge on the left and paddocks on the right. Cross a culvert, now with the ditch on the right, and enter an enclosed section still walking in the same direction. You will reach the road at Attleton Green. Turn right and retrace your steps to the recreation ground and 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.
Walked October 2016
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.