Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Deben Valley Walk from Wickham Market to Woodbridge

An 8 mile walk along the Deben Valley in Suffolk from Wickham Market to Woodbridge

This walk follows the route of the East Suffolk Line Walks along the Deben Valley. An easy and simple walk with the highlight of the village of Ufford which boasts its very own microbrewery and ancient church. The walk ends with an amble along the popular riverside path between Melton and Woodbridge.

Wickham Market to Turban Centre, Woodbridge Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Wickham MarketView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Turban Centre, WoodbridgeView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
8 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy

Transport:

First Group - Bus Service
Service Number
64 - First Group 64 service connects Ipswich, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Saxmundhamm, Leiston and Aldeburgh. Unfortunately this was made into a 2 hourly service from August 2015
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2012-02-04
Walk Time
10:45 to 14:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Very cold with light snow showers

Walk Notes

After a week of freezing temperatures and days of bright sunshine and clear blue skies, the Saturday of the walk arrived with grey skies, more freezing temperatures and light snow showers. A heavy fall of snow was being forecast for the evening but the met office website was showing just cloud for the east during the daylight hours, so undeterred and entrenched in four layers of winter clothing we set off on a winters walk which would prove well worth the effort.

The East Suffolk Line Walk for this section links Campsea Ash station with Melton and then Woodbridge stations. However, it is easier for us to catch the bus from Leiston and walk from Wickham Market. Campsea Ash station is designated as the stop for Wickham Market and lies just a mile or so out of the town. It is easy to walk from the station and our walk joins the official route by the edge of the Oaks, a small piece of woodland by the River Deben.

On passing Loudham Hall we noticed what appeared to be several ostriches in the grounds in front of this outstanding building. I have since learnt that these were not ostriches but another large flightless bird called a rhea. Although related to the ostrich these native south American birds are slightly smaller and lack the plume-like tail feathers of an ostrich. There are several accounts of these particular birds escaping the grounds of Loudham Hall and finding their way into the surrounding villages and gardens. Nonetheless a quite unexpected find.

The section through to Ufford crosses several crop fields which were full of parsnips frozen in the ground. The few that were by the side of the footpath, which diagonally crosses one of these fields, were enormous in size. I guess a lot of these will get discarded during harvesting as they are not suitable for the supermarkets. We managed to get a large bag of discarded parsnips over Christmas from a local field. I can assure you they are just as tasty and delicious as the rest.

Ufford looks to be an interesting place having taken a little time to peruse its church and White Lion pub. Unfortunately the church had a service in progress so we were unable to take a look inside. This will necessitate another visit to this peaceful little village, maybe as part of walking the Ufford Heritage Trail. This trail was encountered on a waymarker as we entered the grounds to the church and then we managed to pick up a Trail leaflet in the pub. It is only a 3 mile tour of the village but would be something to wander on a vacant afternoon or as part of a larger walk. With the enticement of the exceptional Ufford Ales on offer at the White Lion it wont take much to get us back here.

The section from Melton to Woodbridge was something new, not that I have not walked this section countless times before but I cant remember ever having walked this in anything but sunny blue skies with plenty of people ambling along this popular riverside pathway. Therefore it made a welcome change to witness the same scenes under grey snowy skies with few people around and getting a liberal dusting of snow over our jackets in the brisk breezes that blew against us. There is always something new to look at along this ever-changing section of the Deben. From Wilford Bridge the Deben pans out into a broad estuary and on the Sutton side the river defences have been breached giving, at low tide, a vast muddy landscape with the skeletons of dead trees looking lost amid the scene. The west bank is punctuated with numerous decaying wrecks and moored houseboats. Some look like the stereotypical ideas of Noah's Ark with their wooden living quarters constructed atop old and sometimes rusting hulls that rest in the Deben mud. There are plant pots, bicycles, garden gnomes, net curtains, decorated gang-planks and numerous nick-nacks that give each boat an individual and homely feel. Such a pleasant and peaceful life must be had by these boat dwellers but I cant help wondering just how cold it must be on during such wintry conditions. Further along was an example of a house boat under construction. A tired looking old hull sat with its bow moored to the bank and on top was the skeletal wooden framework, partially covered with boarding, the floor fitted with wooden boards and no roof. A sign on the side advertised the company who was entailed with the construction this, advertising 'insulated wooden boat building'. Maybe I was wrong in the assumption of the cold conditions and maybe with modern insulation materials these are warm and comfortable even in the harshest of weathers. For now I can only guess.

A tunnel of trees on the footpath down into Ufford villageFigure set in the tower of Ufford church
On the left A tunnel of trees on the footpath down into Ufford village; On the right Figure set in the tower of Ufford church

Directions

The walk follows the waymarked East Suffolk Line Walk. There are a couple of instances where the waymarkers are missing but with an OS map the route is well defined.

Wickham Market to East Suffolk Line Walk route

Take the footpath that leads around the church and out of the village. Keep ahead ignoring the paths to the left until it meets a country lane. Turn right and when the road bends around to the right, take the track on the left which leads under the A12 Wickham Market bypass. Turn right along the track on the far side of the bypass and follow this around to the left by the cottage at Fowls Watering. This leads down to a couple of footbridges across the River Deben. As the path head into the woods take the footpath on the right which is waymarked with the East Suffolk Line Waymarkers

East Suffolk Line Walk to Melton

The footpath emerges onto a country lane close to Decoy Pond. Turn right and follow the road around the bends, past Park Farm and up the slight incline. Take the left hand footpath that is signposted on either side of the road. This follows the border of a small wood until it meets a track that crosses it. Take the right track past Loundham Hall until it junctions with another track. There is a gap in the hedge and the footpath continues diagonally across the field, then follows the field boundary. Eventually the boundary ends and the footpath crosses an open field. Head for the field boundary where the path continues between the hedges of the fields down into Ufford. Continue onwards along the road until there is a road on the right where a footpath on the left leads across a grassed field and over a stile. Keep to the right ignoring the path directly onwards, and pass through the gate up into the churchyard. Pass directly through the churchyard and a footpath leads down to the White Lion pub. Turn right then follow the road on the left. There is a shortcut across the golf course before the footpath on the left of the road leads down to Wilford Bridge. Cross the main road into Melton and follow the riverside path. There is a path which leads off to Melton Station

Melton to Woodbridge

There is a riverside footpath all the way through to Woodbridge. Keep to this until the station. Buses depart from the Turban Centre, which is found by taking the road right, from the station then left at the traffic lights.

The church of St Mary of the Assumption, Ufford
The church of St Mary of the Assumption, Ufford

Pubs

The White Lion, Ufford View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
Lower Street, Ufford
Website

The White Lion can trace its history back at least 400 years when records show that it was sold by Francis Ballett in 1618. Since this time it has changed hands and has also housed a variety of trades including victualler, butcher and builder in addition to its primary function as the village inn.

The current owners have retained the pubs unspoilt character, including the oak beams, the central fireplace and the walls adorned with local features and real ales served straight from the cask behind the bar. In 2011 they have also added a brewery in the old coach house adjacent to the shop next to the pub. Under the name of Uffa Microbrewery they produce a range of ales that are on offer at the pub.

The pub is renowned for its range of year round entertainment including classic car rallies, beer festival, regular fine dining evenings, bonkers bingo sessions, sailing club extravaganzas and sizzling summer barbecues.

Review

Great expectations were held for this microbrewery pub and it certainly did not let us down. Their Ufford Tipple is a classic example of how a traditional English bitter should taste, well hopped and refreshingly bitter. We indulged in a bowl of their home made soup of the day which was broccoli. I am not a keen fan of broccoli but this soup was absolutely delicious creamy, warming and served with a chunk of hot bread embedded sun dried tomatoes. Excellent pub. Excellent beer. Excellent food. Well recommended.

Loudham Hall
Loudham Hall

Features

Loudham HallView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Loudham was an ancient manor in the Deben Valley, mentioned in the Domesday Book.

At the time of the Domesday Book, Loudham, then spelt Ludham, was the name of a manor consisting of a church and a mill. It is unknown when the church was built but it certainly existed next to the Hall up until 1589 when records show that it was partly dismantled. In 1609 it became a hay store together with a dove house in its steeple. The church was finally demolished in 1792.

The present building known as Loudham Hall was built in the 15th century for the Loudham family whom had taken their family name from the manor in the 13th century. The estate passed to the Blennerhassett family by marriage in the 15th century and then it was sold to Sir Henry Wood in 1627. Sir Henry was treasurer of the Household of Henrietta, widow of King Charles I. His descendant Charles Wood, carried out substantial alterations to the Hall in the mid 1700s including adding a new wing as large as the original house. In 1792 the Loudham estate was acquired by Jacob Whitbread, nephew of the founder of Whitbread Brewers. It remained in the Whitbread family until 1921 when the estate passed to the Wigan family. In 2009 the hall was sold to Tobyview Ltd, a private farming company.

The Church of St Mary of the Assumption, UffordView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The ancient parish church of Ufford, dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption

The ancient church at Ufford is dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption. This curious name was common to hundreds of East Anglian churches prior to the Reformation and pays homage to Christian belief that the Virgin Mary was bodily taken up to heaven at the end of her life.

It is almost certain that a church stood on this location for many centuries before the present building dating from the 11th century. The present building has had later additions in the 13th and 15th and 19th centuries.

Probably the most notable feature of the church is its 15th century font cover which survived the destructions of the Reformation. The cover is a full 18 feet tall and decorated in receding tiers of canopied niches, with image stools that formerly held statues and terminating in a carved pelican, the mystic symbol of Christ. It is reputed that the reason this artifact survived was because William Dowsing, the puritan soldier and Provost-Marshall who was charged with the title of 'Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition' was so impressed with its magnificence on his visit in 1643 that he spared it too much damage.

References

Melton Old ChurchView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The original church of St Andrews on the border with Ufford was the former parish church of Melton

This Church, situated on the border of Ufford on what is now called Old church Road, was once the parish church of Melton. The building dates from the 12th century when records show the first rector as William, son of Theodwine in 1146. The tower was constructed in 1446 and originally had four bells, of which only one remains, the others now installed into the newer and later St Andrews Church at Melton. As the village population increased the congregation soon outgrew the church and despite proposals for enlargement, eventually in 1865 the present St Andrews was built in the centre of the village.

Today the church has become a mortuary chapel and also hosts concerts, lectures, and an art class

The wide open landscape of the Deben Estuary
The wide open landscape of the Deben Estuary

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

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: ... 2016-01-16

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