A 10 mile walk along the East Suffolk Line Trail between Halesworth and Darsham
Great views are to be had along the Blyth valley before footpaths head over to the Yox valley. The village of Bramfield is at the half way point where is an old pub for refreshments as well as a distinctive church with a detached tower and a fine example of a Crinkle Crankle Wall, not to mention the legendary Bramfield Oak.
Halesworth to Darsham Walk - Essential Information
National Express - Train Service
- Service Number
- East Suffolk Line - There is a two hourly service between Saxmundham and Lowestoft and an hourly service between Saxmundham and Ipswich
- Date of Walk
- Walk Time
- 10:00 to 15:30
- Griffmonster, Kat
- Weather Conditions
- Autumn sunshine with clouds coming in from the west. Cool
The walk began with a bad start when the designated footpath out of Halesworth was found to be blocked up by a construction site. We navigated around to an alternative path marked on the OS map only to find that this was also blocked up due to a bridge in unsafe condition. A third attempt was finally successful. These little trials are all a part of walking and with plenty of time in the day there was no urgency in getting past such obstacles.
It was disappointing to find the Museum on Halesworth Station closed. This museum documents the history of Halesworth town all the way from 3000BC when records show that a settlement was first established. This visit will this will have to wait till another time.
The paths and fields along the route were mostly well drained and fairly dry despite it being autumn. The only exception was the walk alongside the Blyth were uncut grass and nettles heavy with dew resulted in some damp footwear.
Yoxford is a nice village to walk through, look out for the higgeldy piggely houses where the windows sit at all sorts of contorted angles. Also look out for the unusual roadsign in front of the church.
The route is set out with the distinctive East Suffolk Line Walk waymarkers. Although these are abundantly placed, an OS map is needed for clarification.
Halesworth to Bramfield
The walk heads out of Halesworth through a park area, following the River Blyth through to Mells. From Mells take the road south and cross straight over at the T-junction to follow the track up to Melles Court Farm. Before the farm, bear left to the side of the trees. Continue until another path is met and turn left here down to a road at Bartholemews Farm. Turn right and continue until there is another path on the right by Westgate Farm. Take this which emerges on the edge of Bramfield. Continue straight ahead on the road into Bramfield, then left on the main road until the Queens Head pub is reached.
Bramfield to Darsham
Take the road down the side of the pub until it crosses the railway. Immediately after there is a path on the left which leads over to Kingstall Woods. Just beyond the woods, take the right as the footpath joins another, then take the first footpath on the left. This emerges on a road. Turn right, then take the next footpath on the left. At the next road, turn left and take the first footpath on the right. This eventually emerges on the main A1120 through Yoxford. Turn left and walk through the village. Just beyond the church there is a path on the left by the keepers cottage for Cockfield Hall. This cuts across to the A12 where there is a pavement up to Darsham station.
The Queens Head, Bramfield: View in OS Map | View in Google Map
- The Queens Head, Bramfield:
This Grade II Listed building, has stood at the centre of the small village of Bramfield for several centuries. Formerly known as "Skeletons" the traditional pub has evolved into an award winning dining pub renowned for its high quality, home-made meals produced from quality local and local organic vegetables, meat and fresh fish. The interior features scrubbed pine tables, exposed beams, huge fireplaces and a bar with a vaulted ceiling. The pub offers Adnams ales plus a variety of locally made produce available at the bar.
On entering this pub one cannot help to be impressed by the huge vaulted ceiling bar with the large open fireplace. Very friendly bar service with Adnams Bitter and Broadside on tap. The beer quality was top-notch and sandwiches were also excellent.
The Bramfield OakView in OS Map | View in Google Map
A long lost landmark of Bramfield was a large oak tree affectionately known as the Bramfield Oak. This ancient feature had, for centuries, acted as a waymarker for travellers going between Framlingham to Bungay until the tragic day of 15th June 1843 when the mighty tree came crashing down unannounced.
Alfred Suckling records the event in his 1846 publication The history and antiquities of the county of Suffolk where, on page 172, he states
...in 1832 the 'king of the forest' had three main branches, the largest of which had fallen when the drawing was made by Mr Rabett [see image gallery], from which our illustration is engraved. It stood thus mutilated and scathed till the 15th June 1843, when on a calm sultry day, without a breeze to moan its fate, it fell from sheer decay, with a most appalling crash, enveloping its prostrate from with clouds of dust.
The tree had gained some notoriety in the fact that local folklore states that Queen Elizabeth I allegedly sat beneath its branches. However its greatest claim to fame was in an old ballad which told the tale of Earl Hugh Bigod fleeing from the wrath of Henry II in 1174, where, in the fifth stanza it records:
When the Baily had ridden to Bramfield oak
Sir Hugh was at Ilksall bower;
When the Baily had ridden to Halesworth cross
He was singing in Bungay tower
There is some debate as to whether the oak really was old enough for Hugh Bigod to have known it, but nonetheless there are local tales about Bigod hiding in the tree, although these are most likely just enriched folklore that has been borrowed from the famous tales of the Charles II who escaped capture in a similar manner.
Although now long gone, we can deduce its location from an extract in Robert Wakes 1839 publication Southwold and its vicinity, where on page 333 he records
Contiguous to the church stands the mansion of the very ancient Rabett family; and in the centre of the lawn, the very lightning scathed Bramfield oak
The mansion of the Rabett family is Bramfield hall which lies due south of the church with its parkland extending further south and through which the A144 road into the village passes. As this tree was said to be a waymarker for travellers then it must have been close to the course of the road. Even today large old trees dress the parkland, so one can easily imagine a faithful old oak standing there proud, pointing travellers in the direction of Halesworth and Bungay.
Holton Mill: View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Holton Windmill is a preserved Grade II listed open trestle post mill at Holton St. Peter and is visible from the path along the Blyth. Built in 1749, it was in constant use up to 1910 when it was used as a summerhouse. It then became derelict until 1949 when it was taken over by Holton Mill Preservation Fund Committee. Eventually preservation began in 1963
St Andrews Church, Bramfiled: View in OS Map | View in Google Map
The noticeable thing about St Andrews is its detached tower. This is the only example of a detached round tower in Suffolk, though there is a similar example at Little Snoring in Norfolk. There is no evidence that the tower was ever attached to the present church, which is 14th century and a more recent construction than the tower.
St Andrew has one of the best collections of headstops in the county and also a exhibits a very well preserved green man on the eastern eaves of the nave. Bramfield was the site of a significant medieval shrine, and the recess for it survives. You can make out the outline of the wooden crucifix that once stood against the back of it, and there are faint surviving paintings of Angels of the Precious Blood around it.
Crinkle Crankle Wall, Bramfiled: View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Not many folk may even know what a Crinkle Crankle wall is, but opposite the church, the wall will speak for itself. It is in fact a wall with curving lines following a serpentine path rather than a straight line. This layout not only gives the construction added strength but also does away with the need for buttressing. This particular wall is a very fine example.
Cockfield Hall, Yoxford: View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Cockfield Hall is a Grade I listed private house standing in 40 acres of historic parkland, dating from the 16th century. A small attractive lodge cottage with decorative neo-Jacobean brickwork borders the High Street Entrance to Cockfield Hall. The hall was built by the Spring family, wealthy cloth merchants and later baronets of Pakenham. Lady Catherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, was imprisoned at Cockfield Hall in 1567 to recover from her privations in the Tower of London but died shortly after her arrival and was buried in the Cockfield Chapel in Yoxford church. Today the house is a Bed and breakfast.
Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information
Summary of Document Changes
Last Updated: ... 2016-10-01