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The Old Pottery appears in Alastair Sawday's Special Escapes

Walks around Chelsworth

There are a host of good footpaths and routes around Chelsworth and the surrounding villages. Here is a selection of three.

Walk One - Water Meadows circuit (about 45-60mins)

walk one

Walk One (route in red) - click image to enlarge

There is general free access to the watermeadows that lie along the River Brett as it flows east then southeast from Chelsworth. There are many options for extensions visible along the way. Please note that from time to time livestock (mainly sheep, occasionally cattle and the very occasional placid bull) graze the watermeadows. Please keep dogs on the leash if in the least bit unsure. In the relatively unlikely event of there being cattle in a section of the Water meadows and you do not feel confident, there are plenty of options to bypass a section by crossing into an adjoining higher field and then re-entering the water meadows further along. Please also remember to shut all gates behind you.

There are innumerable photo opportunities along the meadows, with scenic twists in the river, alder and willow trees, abundant wildlife etc. There are otter in the river as well as plenty of water vole. The otter are only rarely spotted however. There are Egrets, Cormorants, Duck, Geese, Swans, Barn and Tawny Owl, Kestrels, Buzzards and plenty of Kingfishers in the area (as well a countless other species). A sign of a good local ecology is the number of dragon and damselfly species - present in abundance!

Early mornings are especially good for photography. Aim to start about one hour before sunrise to get the best light. Occasionally there is lovely layered mist. Generally if the is alittle mist in the village, there is more along the water meadows.

Start the walk from the Peacock Inn. Cross the old brick hump-backed bridge and follow the road for about 50 yards around the back of the pink medieval timbered Bridge House. Look for the footpath sign just round the back of the garden (before Bridge Farm) and turn left down the track

The path opens out into the broad Water Meadows. (Near the far end of the first meadow there is a broad gate and beyond it a bridge across the river. If you want a shorter walk, cross the bridge and head across the small meadow to reach Parsonage Lane then turn left to walk up the the main village street and left again to walk back home).

For the full walk however, continue along the broad open water meadows until the first meadow narrows to a rather muddy point. Cross the low barrier here into the next section of water meadow that curves off the right following the river as it turns to the southeast.

As this section ends (almost opposite Nedging Mill) look for a small gate on the right that opens onto a narrow track between a thick hedge and a field fence. This leads up into the abandoned chalk pit. In winter and after heavy rain there is often some flooding off to the left here - great photos to be had in winter especially.

(an alternative to following the track up to the old chalk pit right away is to continue for as long as you like along the watermeadows before retracing your steps to the gate.)

The old chalk pit is a fascinating tangle of Tarzan like vines, old and new trees all fighting for the light. Make your way up though it along the track. Eventually you will emerge in the open to the start of a slightly sunken path called Croft Lane) that winds between two fields up to Chelsworth Common.

At the top of the track turn right to walk back into Chelsworth via the bridge you started at and perhaps a well earned drink at the Peacock Inn.

Walk Two - about 45 mins

Walk Two

Walk Two (route in red) - click image to enlarge

This walk is a useful cross-country route to Bildeston (especially if you wish to eat/drink at one of the Pubs or dine at the Bildeston Crown Inn) as well as a nice circular route. The last stage is straight across a field and can sometimes be muddy so wellies might be advisable at some times of year.

Turn left (North) on leaving the Grange / Old Pottery and walk along the grass verge or the pavement. After about 50 yards, where the road bends off left to the West, continue up the gravel track past a modern house and the farm buildings. You pass the entrance to Chelsworth Community Woodland on your left. Feel free to detour into here. The track then emerges between the fields above Chelsworth (Claypits and then Fynnes Meadow on the left and Hatches, then Barn Close on the right).

Follow the track for a few hundred yards as it curves off slowly to the left. Turn right (immediately after a ditch) to follow the track to Bildeston. The field now on the left is called Wild Irish Leys. After another 100 yards or so you cross a small planked walkway into the next field. Here one could turn left and follow one of the routes to the pretty village of Kettlebaston about 1 mile away. However, to head to Bildeston, carry straight on and follow the field edge until you reach Church Farm and then Bildeston Church.

At Bildeston Church you have the option of walking on down the tarmac road to Bildeston village centre (1/2 mile) or turn right and walk South along a broad grassy strip back towards Chelsworth. This route passes by some old dying oak trees that can make for good photos, then a small wood on the left. After passing into the next field, the path briefly follows the edge of the field and then continues straight on across the field and down into Chelsworth, emerging opposite the start of Parsonage Lane. Turn right here to walk back through the village, past the Peacock Inn to the Grange / Old Pottery.

Walk Three

Walk Three - about 45 mins

Walk Two

Walk Three (route in red)

Start at the Peacock Inn and walk across the old bridge, past Bridge House and continue up Hall Road.

(Just past Gardeners Cottage but before Cheslworth hall there is a track on the right that leads to a nice view over the lower part of Chelsworth Park towards the Church.)

Continue up Hall Road past the entrance to Chelsworth Hall and turn right at the top where the road splits. Follow this road to the point where it turns left uphill. Here leave the road and continue West along the edge of the wood. There a quite a number of bluebells in the wood further along during April/May - though other woods in the area have much better displays.

The path ends where it reaches a road again (Clay Hill). Turn right and follow the road down (or sneak along the wood edge - private I think). At the bottom of the hill (where the road curves off left) look for a scrubby layby type area and sometimes partly hidden sign directing you on through the thick hedge to cross a stile into lower Chelsworth Park.

The park opens up wide here. Feel free to explore the Park. There are occasionally sheep or cattle here. Make your way North to find the parralel wood and brick bridges across the river. For some reason the beautiful brick bridge is now off bounds! Cross the wooden one and follow the narrow river edge track to emerge on the road at the Western end of the village. Turn right to walk back to the Grange / Old Pottery, past the playing field.