66 – Orford fields, lanes and woods 6.6 miles – 30th May

In short: a different type of Orford walk this time – not coastal but rural. Lovely paths, woods and churches but also a missing footpath sign leading to a diversion! Very hard ground, rutted in places so worth wearing proper boots. Public toilets in the village; better coffee & snack at the end than last time. 2hrs 25 mins walking + 15 mins pitstop.

We are again in Orford for a few days of the half term break and I decide to try one of the appealing looking ‘Pub Walks with Darcy’ from the Essential Suffolk magazine that gets delivered here for free in the post. These walks are available on the magazine’s website – and I was probably just unlucky this time around that either a sign or an actual path was missing/overgrown.

I start from Orford village centre – there is some free parking on the roads and we start from Daphne Road as per previous walks, postcode IP12 2NH. There is also a pay & display car park on Quay Street.

The ‘Pub Walk’ as published is from The Kings Head on Front Street – the main road through the village. It is positioned right beside the main entrance to the churchyard and I make my way there.

Entering the churchyard from beside the pub I walk towards the church and then take the left fork to pass to the left of the church and then the grass path left towards the far wall.

Turning right at the wall I follow it round till I come to a gap beside a wooden gate with ‘The Old Hall’ on it where I turn left onto a footpath at the backs of houses on my right.

I cross a road and continue along another footpath ahead, at the end of which I continue on the same path diagonally across a field edge. This brings me out onto another road – not much more than a lane really – where I turn right.

I end up walking along this road for quite a few minutes and I have to say it is very quiet – virtually no traffic – and lovely field views all around with plenty of birdlife.

At a crossroads I continue straight on, heading towards the electricity sub-station – here I am supposed to turn right at a bridleway opposite the green metal gates. However I can’t even see a gap in the hedgerow opposite so assume I will come to it a bit further up the lane – this however doesn’t happen.

I continue up the lane, passing Lodge Farm on my right – at this point I should be the other side of it – but soon after, I come to a bridleway sign on my right, presumably the point at which I should emerge from the detour on the right, and I decide to explore to see if I can find the path from the other direction.

I walk along this path and very soon come to a junction and assume I need to turn right to make the required semi-circle but unfortunately this path only leads to the farm buildings – albeit it does afford some lovely views!

Realising I can go no further on this path I retrace my steps back to the path junction.

On reaching this junction of paths again I notice an old wooden footpath sign on the right – indicating that the bridleway continues in the other direction from the one I had chosen!! And so I turn right here – still intent on discovering the path I should have taken originally.

The path continues downhill here until, more or less at the foot of the incline and just before a brick building, there is a grassy path off to the right which was on the original walk instructions. I turn right here – just after spying a gorgeous hare bounding away from me across the field on my right!

This grassy path is really lovely – a couple of puddles at the start indicate that it must be at the bottom of a slope as there is no stream to be seen.

I follow it to the end – at which point I am completely charmed to come upon a hare sitting bolt upright right in front of me! Unfortunately it bounds off before I can grab my phone to get a picture.

At this point I should pretty much be able to see the bridleway that I should originally have taken from opposite the electricity sub-station but despite wandering up the track to my right, peering closely at the farm buildings there and then walking back again I can’t see either the path or a sign. I conclude that the path must run diagonally towards an open metal gate into a field almost opposite the end of the grassy path but the whole field is so completely overgrown that it’s impossible to discern. I am on my own on this walk and feel reluctant to explore further in case I’m caught trespassing or something and so I retrace my steps on the grassy path just taken.

Eventually, after turning left at the end of the grassy path and then bearing right at the junction of paths, I return to the lane at the point I departed to explore. Now I am back on the track of the original walk and so turn right to continue along the lane.

I almost miss a footpath sign on my left across a field – just before reaching woodland ahead. It is in fact directly opposite a clearer sign for a path off to my right and I find myself wondering how this would have joined up with where I have just been. For another day though as I have explored enough…!

I turn left to follow this path across a field in the direction of a lovely house and church. It’s not that easy to see these landmarks as the path is narrowly carved out through some already well-developed corn. Nevertheless the path is clear and soon reaches a wider stretch with a fence to my right and I continue along here – trying unsuccessfully  to get a better view of the lovely looking house on the other side. Soon I am level with the churchyard and get a good look at yet another beautiful old Suffolk church.

This is Sudbourne church, and on reaching the end of the church wall I turn right towards Sudbourne wood on the other side of the road in front of me.

I cross the road and start walking along the track ahead into the wood. After walking for a good five minutes, and having ignored other paths off left, I reach a crossroads of paths with a four way sign and here I turn left.

After a couple of minutes I turn left again on a lovely path through the woods and continue along this path – ignoring paths off left – through a dogleg section until I come out to the clearing at the end of the woods and the road beyond.

I turn left at the edge of the woods and return to the track I first walked up where I turn right to reach the road.

Here I cross, passing the church wall to my left and also the path I arrived on, and here continue straight on along a really beautiful path between fields. Looking back I have a lovely view of Sudbourne church beyond the fields:

I stay on this path for quite a while, crossing a lane and walking beside a wooded copse.

Views to my left now are of the village but I’m not heading straight there just yet.  After passing some houses on my right I reach the road – the main road into the village – and here I cross to follow the track directly ahead. At the end of this track I turn left in front of a metal gate and opposite a house called ‘Orford Lodge’.

This last lovely path takes me directly to the village, in fact bringing me out by the primary school. At the road junction I bear left to pass the garage and thus return to the Kings Head, however I spot that there are people outside the Pump Street bakery and decide I am desperate enough for a coffee to give it a second chance (see my comments on walk 59 for what I thought of it last time!)

They are in fact only open for takeaways but I can sit at one of their outside tables, which I decide to do. In fact their coffee was excellent last time and is again today – and the eccles cake that I decide to try is equally delicious. Thank goodness! This walk was only supposed to be 4.25 miles and I’ve already done 6!!

After the briefest of pitstops (the toilets are closed but I could have used the public ones across the square) I head back via the churchyard to Daphne Road and my start point.

What a shame about the ‘lost’ path – I would love to try this walk again but before doing so will definitely try to establish whether that bridleway does in fact exist or not!

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